By Nicole Alvarez
By Nicole Alvarez
The basketball team is on its way to the state tournament after beating Citrus in the regional championship March 5. With the final score of 66-50, this will be the first time since 2001 that the Tigers have advanced to the state tournament.
The Tigers started off leading the Citrus Owls 18-9 after 9 minutes of play. Keeping a good lead, the Tigers were faced with a bad out of bounds call by the referee just one minute later. This did not stop the Tigers from getting possession back and taking it to the basket for another two points.
Freshman guard Erica Allen sunk a 3-pointer after 12 minutes, keeping the Owls at 9 and leaving the Tigers with 23. This was Citrus’ chance to redeem itself bringing the ball back up the court strategizing slowly on their next move. With home court advantage the Owls missed their chance after the RCC crowd let them know whose house they were in.
With six minutes left in the first half, freshman Shavonne Smith added a three-pointer to make the score 26-9. Making a defensive move, Smith denied an Owl pass and took the ball back to the hole for a two-point lay up, forcing a Citrus timeout 28-9. This gave the Owls possession but they simply could not convert.
Finally, with five minutes left in the first half, the Owls were able to break through the Tigers defense and score two points to end their seven-minute dry spell.
With only three minutes left in the first half and the score 28-13, Citrus threw the ball away. The Tigers gained possession but are soon rejected by a steal from Citrus. But just as quickly as Citrus regained possession, the Owls threw the ball away.
Dribbling down the court, freshman guard Tyresha Calhoun got advice from coach Alicia Berber with only one minute left in the first half.
With a score of 32-13 and 2.4 seconds left in the first half, Shavonne Smith threw the ball in bounds and Leslie Pickron made a three-pointer to leave the first half with the score of 35-13.
RCC began the second half with a three-pointer and then Shavonne Smith with another lay up to add to her 24 point contribution.
Thirteen minutes into the second half Denise Snyder blocked an Owl shot which lead to freshman forward Claudia Gonzalez scoring two points for the game.
Giving the Owls a little hope with 10 minutes remaining in the game, the Tigers threw away the ball. The Citrus Owls had a nice run helping their fans get into the game, but were quickly shut down by Denise Snyder with a two-point jump shot to add to her 11 points of the game.
With eight minutes left in the second half, Erica Allen had a two handed block outside the Owls three point line.
A foul was called in favor of sophomore forward De’Anna Baldwin with six minutes left in the game. She made her two points from the line leaving the score at 52-37.
The Owls knocked with an eight-point run to temporarily change the pace of the game. The Tigers are forced to take a timeout to regroup.
With four minutes left in the second half Shavonne Smith made two more points and just 30 seconds later Leslie Pickron sank a 15 footer to force Citrus to call another timeout, 60-43.
The next four minutes of the game was a back and forth exchange by both teams with little success. The Tigers continued to let time run as a stall tactic.
Erica Allen attempted to shoot at the buzzer and made her 3-pointer, but the referee negated the shot. The final score was 66-50.
The Tigers move on to compete in the Final Eight of Community Colleges in California at the University of San Diego.
“We played with a lot of intensity as a team and as individuals. If we step it up and play with heart, we have a good chance,” said Snyder.
Erica Allen added, “The odds are against us, we haven’t won State since 1987, but with God’s will we are on our way. The time is now.”