GATOR CLASSIC: Spring Valley completes late comeback, moves into semifinals

The first-place trophy for the Gator Winter Classic was not awarded late Tuesday.

But the Gold Bracket quarterfinal featuring Spring Valley’s girls basketball team and Westchester (Calif.) had the look and feel of a championship game.

Kayla Harris scored with eight seconds remaining to cap a late comeback, and the defending Division I-A state champion Grizzlies pulled out an intense 60-58 victory at Green Valley.

Spring Valley will take on Rancho at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the semifinals. The Grizzlies lost in the quarterfinals of this tournament last season in a game that was similar to Tuesday’s back-and-forth slugfest with Westchester.

“That was our only loss last year, so to come into this tournament, this is a big hurdle for us to win this tournament,” Spring Valley coach Billy Hemberger said. “It’s almost like unfinished business for us. Rancho’s a hell of a team. (Rams coach Ashley Vossen has) done a great job with them, and I know they slow it down. Today we played mirror images, tomorrow is going to be polar opposites of each other.”

Essence Booker had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Harris overcame early foul trouble to finish with 17 points and eight boards for Spring Valley, which trailed by as many as five points in the fourth quarter and was down 58-56 with 2:20 remaining.

“It’s the big difference of last year we had freshmen and sophomores,” Hemberger said. “This year, you can see that experience, that last year we would have maybe quit once we got down. This year we’re able to keep moving forward and stick to the game plan.”

Alana Walker scored inside to tie the score at 58 with two minutes remaining, and had a chance to give the Grizzlies the lead with 40 seconds left but couldn’t convert.

Westchester called timeout with 35.8 seconds left and set up a play for Briana Anugwom. The standout guard’s short jumper with 16 seconds to go didn’t fall, and Harris grabbed the rebound and went coast to coast for the go-ahead basket.

“Coaches want control, of course, so Kayla gets a rebound right there and you could question whether I should call a timeout or whatever,” Hemberger said. “But when you have a player of her caliber, sometimes you have to let her make a play. Let her do what she does, and I’ll call a timeout if I need to.”

Westchester’s Jinea Cole was fouled with 1.5 seconds remaining, but she missed the front end of the one-and-one, and Harris snagged the rebound to end the game.

Lynnae Wilds had six of her nine points in the first half for Spring Valley, which shot 33 percent from the floor (21-for-63). Walker had 11 rebounds to go along with six points, and Myra Tadytin contributed six points and eight rebounds.

“Kayla picking up three fouls early, of course that changes the dynamic tremendously of what my team is able to do,” Hemberger said. “But our bench stepped up tremendously and everybody filled their role absolutely where they need to be and executed at the end.”

Anugwom led the Comets with a game-high 29 points on 8-for-21 shooting from the floor. Jinea Cole had nine points and made three of Westchester’s eight 3-pointers.

Westchester weathered an early storm from the Grizzlies and used a 12-0 run in the third quarter to take a 43-41 lead.

“Westchester, in watching them play, they’re a heck of a team,” Hemberger said. We’re almost spitting images of each other, in that we have two dominant guards. It’s mirror images of each other, so I knew this was going to be a very tough game.

“These are games that we need, for sure. We’ve played 12 games now, and 10 of them have been (against) out-of-state (teams). And I really feel that has prepared us big time.”

Foothill 51, Mainland (New Zealand) 36 — Trinity Betoney had 12 points, and Kylie Vint scored 11 as the Falcons beat the Eagles to advance to the Gold Bracket semifinals.

Katey Roquemore added 10 points for the Falcons, who won their sixth consecutive game.

Betoney finished off a pass from Rae Burrell on a fast break to put Foothill up 41-27 with 20 seconds left in the third quarter, and the Falcons led by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter.

Betoney knocked down an 18-foot jumper early in the second quarter to give the Falcons a 21-9 lead, and Kaylee Hall’s 3-pointer with 1:45 left in the quarter helped Foothill take a 31-19 lead at halftime.

Zoe Richards led Mainland with eight points.

Rancho 47, El Segundo (Calif.) 31 — Maureen Macato had 13 points, and the Rams overcame a sluggish start to beat the Eagles and advance to the Gold Bracket semifinals.

Tatianna Lee added 11 points for Rancho, which closed the third quarter on an 11-3 run following a technical foul and then pulled away in the fourth.

The Rams received key contributions from several role players. Ashlynn McCall finished with eight points and made a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to help give the Rams a 17-14 halftime lead, and Courtney Plumer scored six of her seven points in the third quarter.

Plumer’s 15-foot jumper from the left wing seconds before the third-quarter buzzer put Rancho ahead, 34-22.

Lee had the highlight of the fourth quarter as she dribbled through a double-team in the backcourt then followed her own miss to give the Rams a 41-27 lead with 4:06 remaining.

Paige Endo finished with 17 points for El Segundo, but she was held without a field goal in the second half.

Green Valley 68, Silverado 53 — Brooke Haney had 17 points, and Ellee Barton added 15 points as the Gators used a fast start to down the Skyhawks in a Gold Bracket quarterfinal.

Green Valley hosts Foothill in the semifinals at 12:10 p.m. Wednesday.

The Gators opened the game on an 18-6 run, and Haney had nine first-half points to help give Green Valley a 37-22 lead at the break.

Yamilei Rodriguez finished with 10 points for the Gators, who went 19-for-31 at the free-throw line.

Deja Siaki led Silverado with 22 points. Lyric Knight had eight of her 12 points in the first half for the Skyhawks.

Dimond (Alaska) 55, Durango 32 — Brittany Romo had 11 points in the Trailblazers’ Silver Bracket loss to the Lynx.

Maya Carle had 17 points to lead Dimond. Alexis Shipman added 11 points, and Whitney Shapp scored 10 for the Lynx, who outscored Durango 15-1 in the first quarter.

White Pine 46, Del Sol 27 — Ashlyn Huntington had 12 of her game-high 17 points in the second half to lift the Bobcats past the Dragons in the Silver Bracket.

Jazland Campbell made two 3-pointers and finished with 13 points to lead Del Sol, which was held to one field goal in the first half.

Ana Ozuna added 11 points for Del Sol.

Westchester (Calif.) 40, Needles 27 — Brenna Chavez had 11 points in the Mustangs’ loss to the Comets in a Gold Bracket game.

Westchester’s Anugwom had a game-high 18 points, including 12 in the first half. Cole chipped in with nine points for the Comets.

Needles was within striking distance in the third quarter, but the Mustangs weren’t helped by a 6-for-17 effort at the free-throw line.

Foothill 59, Coronado 46 — Burrell had 17 points, and Betoney added 16 points as the Falcons beat the Cougars in a Gold Bracket game.

Burrell and Betoney each had 12 points in the first half as Foothill opened a 42-24 halftime lead over its Southeast League rivals.

The Falcons finished 15-for-20 from the free-throw line, while Coronado made only four of its 11 foul shots.

Haley Tyrell led Coronado with 15 points. Payton Caci finished with 13 points for the Cougars.

Spanish Springs 45, Western 42 — Destiny Gonzalez had 15 of her 24 points in the second half, but the Warriors fell to the Cougars in a Silver Bracket game.

Capricia Pierce finished with 15 points for Western.

Anhelica Shanrock led Spanish Springs with 12 points. Jamie Jurgensmier added 11 points for the Cougars.

El Segundo (Calif.) 32, Moapa Valley 19 — Shelbi Walker had a team-high five points in the Pirates’ Silver Bracket loss to the Eagles.

Moapa Valley was held scoreless in the first quarter.

Paige Endo and Hannah Nonoguchi had eight points apiece for El Segundo, which put away the game with a 12-3 third-quarter run.

Spring Valley 66, Dimond (Alaska) 42 — Harris had 22 points, and Booker added 20 as the Grizzlies beat the Lynx to finish atop their pool.

Harris had 17 points in the first half to help Spring Valley open a 40-21 lead. Booker scored 14 in the second half.

Booker was 13-for-15 at the free-throw line, as the Grizzles finished 22-for-39 overall.

Whitney Shapp led Dimond with 14 points, and teammate Meghen Jones had 10 points.

Silverado 62, White Pine 48 — Deja Siaki bounced back from an off game Monday night with 34 points to lead the Skyhawks past the Bobcats in pool play.

Siaki had 20 points in the second half to help Silverado erase a 29-28 halftime deficit.

Ja’Neal Coleman added 12 points for the Skyhawks.

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