By Tommy Fellner
The Acalanes Women’s basketball team, the 4 seed in the state playoffs, clashed with Shasta High School, the 5 seed, this saturday night in the California Division III state playoffs. The Lady Dons capitalized their long awaited return to State with a 63-57 win over Shasta.
The Lady Dons came out inspired in front of a big home crowd and shocked Shasta early on with their physical defense and ability to run the court. However, the Wolves would need more than one hit to go down and they soon recovered. The teams continued to go back and forth until the end of the first quarter.
With a slim two point lead coming out of the first quarter, neither the Lady Dons nor Shasta could get an advantage on their opponent. With the score tied at 19, it was as if a switch went off in all of the Lady Dons’ heads, and Panfili sunk a shot after a succession of quick passes. Acalanes then stopped the Wolves on defense, went back down the court and scored again. The gym grew to a defeaning roar and the Lady Dons went on a 9-0 run, forcing Shasta to call a timeout.
In the driver’s seat and with the score 28-19, Acalanes could relax and assert the fact that they were indeed back and a force to be reckoned with. Shasta managed to cut the deficit down to five points as the two teams headed into halftime.
Out of the half, it was the Wolves that went on a run. Acalanes found themselves on their heels and it was Shasta that was converting on offense and stopping the Lady Dons on defense. The Lady Dons continued to convert but their top scorers, such as sophomores Brooke Panfili and Emma Godfrey, were seemingly stymied by the Wolves defense at the beginning of the quarter. However, Panfili managed to catch fire as the third quarter went on and provided much of the scoring for the Lady Dons.
With the score tied at 39 at the end of the third and the Wolves seemingly able to lock down Acalanes’ go-to scorers, it was up to some of Acalanes’ role players to step up and carry the team to victory.
If the first three quarters of the game were about defense, the fourth quarter was the exact opposite. From the beginning both teams pushed the ball up the court and and took chances that either resulted in big buckets or costly turnovers.
It was junior captain Julia Lyons that provided the spark for Acalanes, dishing out assists and even driving the ball into the lane to create some offense for the Lady Dons. Lyons dished out passes to senior Carrie Trent who connected to give the Lady Dons a boost and relieve some of the scoring pressure from Panfili.
Acalanes showcased it’s offense in the fourth and just outran the Wolves, scoring 24 points to the Wolves’ 18. Up by 8 with two minutes remaining, the Lady Dons held off a late surge from the Wolves and closed out the game, winning 63-57.
Sophomore Brooke Panfili led the way for the Lady Dons with 25 points, knocking down 3 3-pointers. Sophomore Emma Godfrey added 13 points, while junior Julia Lyons scored 8 points and senior Carrie Trent 7 points each with 1 3-pointer.
The Lady Dons take on the top seed, Vanden High School, on tuesday night. Vanden is ranked 16th overall in the state and it should be an intense game with the victor advancing to the state championship.