With eight minutes left in the Division III finals, it looked like we were headed for a third straight blowout. Modesto Christian had other ideas. The Crusaders stormed back from as much as 17 down to beat Enterprise 58-56.
Down 17 points in the second half and 14 heading into the fourth, Modesto Christian won its first NorCal title since 2009 with a 58-56 win over Enterprise.
Modesto Christian and Enterprise played a back and forth first half with the Hornets taking a 32-28 lead into the locker room. The Hornets started the third on a 14-2 run to gain a double digit lead despite senior post Jordan Kimbrough going to the bench with foul trouble.
After the teams traded buckets to start the fourth, the Crusaders went on a 13-2 run to get back into the game before taking their first lead at 57-56. With 30.7 seconds left, Enterprise chose to defend and allowed Modesto Christian to run more than 20 seconds off the clock. Following a time out, Lexi Tubbs split a pair from the line and Enterprise's last shot was blocked for the two point win. In total, Modesto Christian outscored Enterprise in the fourth quarter 22-6.
Modesto Christian got 18 points, including 8-for-10 from the line, from Stephanie Moore. Jasmine Hampton had 12 points and eight rebounds and Tubbs shook off a rough start to finish with 13 points.
Sophomore Kamira Sanders had 23 points to lead Enterprise, which hadn't lost to a NorCal team prior to Saturday. Rachel Martin had 16 points and nine rebounds and Kimbrough had a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Next up for Modesto Christian is Santa Barbara (30-5), which was the top seed in the SoCal bracket.
Pinewood rolls to NorCal title
In what is almost an annual tradition, Pinewood will be playing on the final weekend of the year after beating Brookside Christian 61-38 for its fifth NorCal title in the last six years. It is the Panthers' eighth regional title overall.
After some initial success with its pressure, Brookside Christian trailed 15-5 late in the first quarter. The Knights went on an 8-0 run to close it to 15-13, but Pinewood took a 26-19 lead into the half. The second half was all Panthers, which started on an 8-2 run en route to leading by as many as 20 points in the third. They led 46-30 after three quarters before coasting to the win.
Pinewood's longstanding success stems from shooting the three ball and it continued on Saturday. It outscored Brookside Christian by 15 points from beyond the arc and negated a size disadvantage by winning the rebounding margin by eight. It also helped keep Brookside Christian out of its transition game and limited its offense.
Pinewood got balanced production led by 16 points and 10 rebounds from junior Gabi Bade. Senior point guard Marissa Hing had 12 points and Akayla Hackson had 10 points off the bench. Sophomore Chloe Eackles had eight points, 12 rebounds and five assists.
Brookside Christian shot 13-for-57 from the field and got a team high 12 points from Lauren Rabena. Ariana Vaughn had 10 points and Ra'Kyra Gabriel finished seven points.
Pinewood will take on La Jolla Country Day (20-11) next week.
Justin-Siena flips the script
What a difference two months make. After losing to Arcata 49-45 on January 20, Justin-Siena took home the NorCal Division IV title with a commanding 47-26 win. It led start to finish in holding Arcata to 25 percent shooting. It is the program's second NorCal title after last making the regional final in 2008. The Braves will face Sierra Canyon (27-4) next weekend.
Haley Cremen had 15 points and six rebounds to lead the Braves. They also got 12 points from Sadie Irvine while Tina Moore had five points and 13 rebounds.
In the program's first NorCal title game appearance, Arcata was paced by nine points and seven rebounds from Lauren McCoy and seven points from Abby Puzz.