PREP BASKETBALL: Lady Miners power past Cordova in 1st round of D-III playoffs; Lady Bruins fall to Colfax in D-IV
LADY MINERS 62, LADY LANCERS 47
NU: Meadow Aragon – 26 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks
NU: Aijah Kig – 13 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists
NU: Emerson Dunbar – 12 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks
C: Eva Graf – 12 points
C: Emika Love – 12 points
For the first time in a long time the Lady Miners were in the ‘House of Pain’ for a playoff game — and it was just like old times.
In a gym known for its winning history and capacity for noise, the Nevada Union girls basketball team won a physical and fast-paced bout, 62-47, over Cordova in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs Tuesday night.
“Unbelievable,” Nevada Union head coach Jenn Krill said of the atmosphere inside the ‘House of Pain,’ officially known as the West Gym. “The crowd was great. It was awesome having the band here, you gotta love that. It was a blast.”
The Lady Miners won five Division I Section titles (1989, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1999) while calling the ‘House of Pain’ home, but moved to the bigger Albert Ali Gymnasium in the early 2000s. It was when Krill, a player on the 1989 and 1990 championship teams, took over as head coach in 2015 that the Lady Miners started transitioning back to the ‘House of Pain.’
In their first home playoff game under Krill, the No. 5 seed Lady Miners gave the raucous home crowd plenty to cheer about.
The Lady Miners (19-10) were able to slice through the No. 12 Lady Lancers’ full court press early on, and raced out to a 19-4 first quarter advantage.
It was a game of runs, though, and Cordova (19-8) came charging back in the second quarter, pulling to within four at 26-22.
Nevada Union grabbed the momentum back at the end of the quarter, getting points from Meadow Aragon, Emerson Dunbar and Reese Werner to close the half on a 6-0 run for a 32-22 lead.
Aragon, a senior forward, led the Lady Miners all game, scoring a game-high 26 points despite drawing multiple defenders on most possessions.
“I just needed to keep my mental game there and keep going after every ball,” said Aragon, who also pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds and tallied two blocks.
Krill applauded Aragon’s effort throughout the very physical game.
“I feel like there were some times where (Aragon) was just getting hammered and she hung in there,” Krill said. “That’s one of the things about the maturity of her game; she gets frustrated, but she’s still the first one back on defense, guarding the best player on their team.”
The Lady Miners endured another Cordova run in the third quarter as the Lady Lancers pulled to within three at 37-34, but responded with points by Aragon, Dunbar and Aijah King to close the quarter on a 12-2 run.
“We really passed the ball well and we got up the floor,” said Aragon. “Aijah did a great job passing and Emerson did a great job of rim running, rebounding and getting those put backs. It all ties into the win.”
King was impressive on both sides of the court, running NU’s offense with poise and causing havoc on defense. The sophomore guard finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
Dunbar was also strong throughout, netting 12 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks.
“I think Emerson did an awesome job tonight. Aijah did a great job. Maddy (Zucca) hit some key buckets for us early,” said Krill. “I felt like it was a really good team win.”
Cordova pulled to within 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but never got any closer as the Lady Miners extended their lead to 15 down the stretch.
“We just didn’t quit,” Krill said. “We gave up a big run and let them cut it to four, but we were able to grind it out.”
Chipping in points for NU was Zucca with five in the first quarter, Molly Burton with four points and Werner with two.
Leading the way for Cordova was Eva Graf and Emika Love with 12 points each.
The Lady Miners will hit the road for the second round, traveling to face the No. 4 seed Manteca Buffaloes at 7 p.m. today.
“We’re going to have to play well and have scoring from multiple people like we did tonight,” Krill said. “We’re going to have to play great defense, we’re going to have to do a better job on the defensive boards and take care of the ball. If we do that, we can keep this thing going for a little bit.”
The Buffaloes (20-8) are the No. 4 seed after going 20-8 overall and earning a share of the Valley Oak League championship. Manteca topped No. 13 seed El Capitan, 66-39, in the first round.
LADY BRUINS bounced by Colfax
The Lady Bruins’ run through the playoffs was a short but eventful one.
As the No. 16 seed in the D-IV playoff bracket, Bear River’s girls basketball team faced off No. 17 Natomas on Monday in a play-in playoff game with the winner getting the prize of playing No. 1 seed Colfax (25-3) the very next day.
With big games from Sarah Aanenson (22 points) and Jordan Foster (20 points) as well as strong team play down the stretch, the Lady Bruins earned that prize with a 61-57 victory over the Nighthawks.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them, and of the effort that they had in the fourth quarter,” said Bear River head coach Randy Billingsley after Monday’s win.
But, on a short turn around, Bear River was no match for the Pioneer Valley League champion Lady Falcons and fell, 77-18, Tuesday night.
The loss concludes a season in which the Lady Bruins went 16-13 overall and finished third in the PVL with a mark of 6-4.
Colfax will now host No. 8 seed Dixon in the second round at 7 p.m. today.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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