By Tommy Fellner //
The 2nd seeded Acalanes Women’s Basketball with a 52-45 win over 6 seed Alameda, accomplished what no other Lady Dons basketball team has done in almost 20 years: reach the NCS finals.
The Lady Dons, being the higher seed, used their home court advantage and jumped on Alameda quick. Acalanes went up 10-2 in the first few minutes, forcing Alameda to slow down and reassess their game plan. The Pirates came back more poised and began to chip away at Acalanes’ lead but the Lady Dons’ stout defense held tough.
Acalanes maintained the lead throughout the first, even expanding it to double digits. The offense got into a groove and junior Brooke Panfili, one of the Lady Dons’ top offensive threats, scored the 1,000 point of her career as a Lady Don in the first quarter off a jumper.
Acalanes led 19-8 at the conclusion of the first quarter.
The Lady Dons carried their momentum into the second quarter. Buckling down on defense, the Lady Dons limited the Pirates to just 7 points the whole quarter. Acalanes dominated the boards and pressured Alameda’s shooters, forcing them to rush their shots and miss.
Acalanes also controlled the ball on offense, committing few turnovers. The Lady Dons expanded their lead to 15, leading Alameda 30-15 at the half.
Alameda came out with renewed energy at the start of the third, trying to claw their way back into the game. Like they did all night, the Lady Dons’ defensive front kept the Pirates at bay.
Alameda finally did cut into the lead, outscoring the Lady Dons in a quarter for the first time this game.
Leading 40-29 at the beginning of the third, the Lady Dons could not contain their excitement and the realization that they were only a quarter away from making history.
Alameda was in a state of desperation. Trailing 11, the Pirates sped up the tempo of the game, hoping to create more offensive opportunities and force turnovers.
The strategy worked and Alameda had cut the double digit lead down to 7 with only a few minutes remaining. Despite Alameda’s threatening run, the Lady Dons didn’t panic, this veteran crew had been in many important games over the years and weren’t about to choke when their goal was so close within reach.
The Lady Dons settled down and took care of the ball, ensuring Alameda wouldn’t get any easy looks. As more and more time wore off the clock and Acalanes still up by a safe 7 points, Alameda had to start fouling.
This was the Pirates’ tactic to stop the clock and give them more chances to close the gap, granted the Lady Dons missed free throws.
But Acalanes stayed clutch.
Roni Marrone, Emma Godfrey and Panfili all made their free throws down the stretch and the Lady Dons held on for the win.
Godfrey led the way scoring with 17 points, Marrone added 13 and Panfili hit two threes and scored 10.
The last time an Acalanes Women’s basketball team reached the NCS finals was 1997.
This year’s team will try to complete this magical run as they take on Carondelet in the finals, this Friday at 6pm at St. Mary’s College.