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GATOR WINTER CLASSIC: Stifling defense helps Rams to win

Rancho’s girls basketball team didn’t score a point in the first six minutes and 25 seconds of the fourth quarter Friday.

Thanks to a remarkable effort by the Rams’ defense, though, the lack of offense barely mattered.

A patient offense, fantastic half-court defense and a timely regaining of their composure all helped the Rams to a 31-24 win over Yosemite (Calif.) in a Gold Bracket quarterfinal of the Gator Winter Classic at Green Valley.

“We really focus on our help defense, and we just focused on getting a hand in their face,” said first-year Rancho coach Ashley Vossen. “Our biggest thing is just trusting each other, trusting that we’re all going to work together.

“This is my first year coaching them, but I had seen them play before, and they played selfish basketball. I told them that it’s not about me, me, me; it’s about Rancho basketball. I’m getting them to buy into that.”

Yosemite averaged 54 points per game in three pool-play games and had two of the more explosive offensive threats in the tournament in guard Sierra Dominici and forward Veronica Miller.

But Rams’ junior center LaKissa Martin chased Miller all around the court, limiting her to just two points.

“LaKissa is my biggest player, but LaKissa can be a guard,” Vossen said. “She is a guard for me, to an extent. She has a passion; she wants it. Anything you ask her to do, she’ll do for you.”

Dominici wiggled free a bit in the second half, scoring nine of her 12 points in the half, but with Rancho forward Jada Wilson patrolling the paint, the Badgers got very little else going offensively.

Yosemite made only eight field goals, and none in the final five minutes of the game.

“Jada played phenomenally tonight,” Vossen said. “Jada was communicating on the court, and she did what we asked her to do. We weren’t as concerned about the girl she was guarding. We wanted to get their backdoor play cut off, and she did it.”

Rancho (12-3) wasn’t exactly an offensive juggernaut, leading only 23-16 after three quarters before the Rams went completely cold on offense.

Yosemite closed within 23-22, then took its only lead of the game on a pair of free throws when Wilson was whistled for a technical foul with 2:06 to go. Wilson and a Yosemite player both grabbed a loose ball. As she tried to wrestle away the ball, the Yosemite player fell, and Wilson was assessed the technical.

But a 3-pointer by Tatianna Lee with 1:34 to play gave the Rams a 26-24 lead, and Rancho’s defense didn’t allow another point.

“I don’t think it affected them because it wasn’t a technical out of anger,” Vossen said. “It was just a technical because we kept playing and didn’t stop at the whistle. Yes, we made a bad play, but we can get over that hurdle.”

Darje Martin had 12 points for Rancho.

Green Valley 84, Westchester (Calif.) 43 — Maggie Manwarren scored 15 of her 25 points in the first half, and the Gators used runs of 14-0 in the first quarter and 18-0 in the third quarter to rout the Comets in bracket play.

Brooke Haney added 17 points for Green Valley.

Brianna Anderson paced Westchester with eight points.

Coronado 59, Sierra (Calif.) 53 — Samantha Green’s three-point play with 39.6 seconds left gave the Cougars the lead for good in a bracket-play win over the Chieftains.

Coronado trailed 43-36 after three quarters, but Green’s stick-back and free throw put the Cougars up 53-51, and Skyler Feldman and Dajah Washington each hit two free throws to extend the lead to 57-51.

Washington had 19 points, and Grace Green scored 14 for Coronado, which got 12 points from Feldman.

Megan Stark had 30 points for Sierra.

Coronado 63, Chaparral 14 — Washington led a balanced attack with 12 points as the Cougars routed the Cowboys in bracket play.

Kayla Watterson added nine points for Coronado, which went on a 26-2 run in the first half to build a 32-8 lead just before the half and used a 25-2 run in the second half.

Abigail Delgado had six points for Chaparral.

Durango 63, Spring Valley 21 — Jazmin Chavez had 24 points, and Brittany Romo scored 22 as the Trailblazers ran away from the Grizzlies in bracket play.

Shania Davis had 11 points for Spring Valley.

South East (Calif.) 62, Cimarron-Memorial 38 — Genesis Carrera scored all 17 of her points in the first half to help the Jaguars eliminate the Spartans in bracket play.

Lupe Cruz added 12 points, and Marley Olivo scored 10 for South East, which used runs of 9-0, 11-0 and 12-0 all to build a 36-18 halftime lead.

Shataya Harper had 10 points for Cimarron.

South East (Calif.) 50, Sunrise Mountain 41 — Cruz had 14 points, and the Jaguars downed the Miners in bracket play.

Jackie Cervantes added 11 points for South East, which led 17-2 before falling behind 23-20 at the half.

Brittany Veal had 18 points for Sunrise Mountain.

Canyon Crest (Calif.) 41, Sierra Vista 38 — Grace Weinzette had 17 points as the Ravens rallied to eliminate the Mountain Lions in bracket play.

Ashley Davidson had 10 points for Sierra Vista, which led 26-19 at the half.

Canyon Crest (Calif.) 37, Shadow Ridge 33 — Nicolee Quarishy had 14 points as the Ravens eliminated the Mustangs in bracket play.

Jadah Preston and Jaylan Johnson each had eight points for Shadow Ridge.

Las Vegas 55, Del Sol 46 — Teconna Dyer had all 12 of her points in the final three quarters to help the Wildcats top the Dragons in bracket play.

Sayanna Roy had 22 points, and Taylor Curtis scored 10 for Del Sol.

Del Sol 51, Moapa Valley 30 — Roy poured in 22 points as the Dragons pulled away from the Pirates in bracket play.

Makayla Jackson hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and had 11 points for Moapa Valley.

Needles 37, Western 31 — Jane Antone scored all eight of her points in the third quarter as the Mustangs rallied from a 16-13 halftime deficit to top the Warriors in bracket play.

Brenna Chavez also had eight points for Needles.

Capricia Pierce led Western with 10 points.

Yosemite (Calif.) 50, Spring Valley 27 — Dominici had 16 points, and Miller scored 14 to lead the Badgers by the Grizzlies in pool play.

Samantha Meredith had six points for Spring Valley.

Sierra (Calif.) 48, Las Vegas 31 — Stark scored 11 points as the Chieftains topped the Wildcats in pool play.

Shaleea Butler had 10 points for Las Vegas.

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