A game that appeared headed to a close finish instead turned into a relatively easy win for the Fresno City women’s basketball team Wednesday night.
Just as two of the chief architects in the breakaway, Jasmine Black and Erin Pallesi, normally like it.
The second-seeded Rams went on a 10-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 68-56 victory over No. 10 San Joaquin Delta in a North Regional playoff game.
The Rams (28-3) will host No. 3 Sierra (26-6) on Saturday for the right to go to the state final four at Las Positas in Livermore. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. as the opener of a doubleheader with the Fresno City men, who also won Wednesday night. Sierra beat No. 6 Santa Rosa 72-47.
For the women’s team, it helped that coach Brian Tessler delivered a halftime message after the Rams trailed 32-31.
“It was definitely one of the tougher games we’ve played,” said Black, who finished with a team-high 16 points. “He didn’t think we had the greatest half and we made some mistakes. We needed to get it together and pull through in the second half.”
Pallesi helped lead the charge when she hit a three-pointer for a 34-32 lead. Her three-point play with 7:01 left in the third quarter made it 42-36.
“We knew we had to pick it up,” Pallesi said. “The game is too close for comfort. Personally for me, when it’s close, I feel like something needs to happen. We stepped up and we got a little cushion. We weren’t going to let up.”
Pallesi finished with 13 points and Heaven Lee added 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Rams.
Brittany Butler led the Mustangs (22-10) with 16 points.
“I told them, in 20 minutes we either play on Saturday or our season is going to be over,” Tessler said. “The one thing I was irritated with is I didn’t think our guard play was very good in the first half. I thought we could’ve got some separation in the first half, but we allowed them back in.
“This game was the absolute definition of survive and advance. You don’t care how you get there, you just survive and advance.”
Crawley powers Rams men – Mike Crawley scored a team-high 16 points, leading No. 3 Fresno City to a 103-83 victory over No. 11 Monterey Peninsula.
The Rams (27-6) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday will host No. 7 Contra Costa, which defeated No. 2 Feather River 106-84.
Fresno City led 40-30 after an Evan Stillahn three-pointer, and a three-point play by Chris Daniels pushed it to 43-30. Stillahn finished with 15 points and Daniels 11. BJ Shelton added 15 points for the Rams.
Kyle Hieb scored a game-high 18 points for the Lobos (20-10).
▪ Fifth-seeded Sequoias advanced with an 87-81 victory over No. 4 Las Positas. The Giants (20-11) will play at top-seeded San Francisco (29-1) on Saturday.