High School Sports

Central Section basketball finals: Caruthers girls repeat as D-V champs

The extent of their nervousness was just a few pregame jitters.

Once the game got underway, Caruthers High could not be rattled – unfazed by the big stage or losing a double-digit lead, or by the late-game drama.

The Blue Raiders had been there, done that at Selland Arena as the reigning Central Section Division V girls basketball champions.

On Friday, they repeated.

Junior guard Andraya Loera scored a game-high 13 points and second-seeded Caruthers limited No. 1 Memorial to 14 points in the second half en route to a 46-39 victory that kicked off two days of section finals at the downtown arena.

“It feels so great,” Loera said. “Back to back, that’s unbelievable.”

Blue Raiders coach Anna Almeida admitted she wasn’t sure at the start of the season that a repeat was possible.

Caruthers (23-7) had lost several key players and the roster included four freshmen, two of whom were starters.

Memorial seemed better-equipped for a title run after regularly playing against higher-level competition as a member of the County/Metro Athletic Conference.

Almeida, however, had the Blue Raiders dedicate the past two weeks preparing for this matchup.

“If we prepare for Memorial, then we’re going to beat everybody we play because they’re supposedly the best of the best,” Almeida said of an approach that might have put Caruthers at risk of overlooking other opponents.

“I was nervous. But I knew our girls were ready. We knew what they ran. Our girls have worked the last two weeks working on their set plays and making the defensive adjustments.”

Caruthers blitzed Memorial at the opening tip, jumping to a 12-2 lead with pressure defense and three-point shooting.

Memorial managed to tie it at 12-12 after one quarter, then built a 25-22 halftime lead with freshman guards Symya Murray and Aunjana James regularly penetrating the Blue Raiders’ defense.

Eventually, Caruthers’ full-court pressure got to Memorial, with Murray and James unable to make big shots or maintain the high energy they exuded through the first two quarters.

Memorial made 6 of 32 shots in the second half (18.8 percent).

“It’s tough to come here and play,” Memorial coach Santino Reynolds said. “It’s just different. It’s something you can’t prepare for.

“I thought we got outworked in stretches. They took advantage of it and knocked down some big shots.”

Murray led the Panthers with 12 points. James had 11.

After Loera, the Blue Raiders’ next top scorers were freshmen. Felicia Ramirez and Destiny Giles each added 10 and Jaque Magana six.

In an almost identical scene to last season, Caruthers players stormed the court at the end as a throng of supporters cheered from the stands.

A year ago, several Blue Raiders fans came out to watch both the boys and girls teams play in section finals.

It was clear who brought them to Selland on Friday.

“It’s very rewarding,” Almeida said. “The buzz on campus was insane. Last year was awesome, but we thought it was because the boys were coming with us.

“To have our school excited about girls basketball is super exciting.”

Bryant-Jon Anteola: 559-441-6362, @Banteola_TheBee

No. 2 CARUTHERS 46, No. 1 MEMORIAL 39

CARUTHERS

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Bairos

24

1-3

0-1

1-10

2

2

2

Giles

15

2-5

5-8

1-3

2

4

10

Loera

31

4-11

1-4

0-5

0

1

13

Magana

24

2-4

2-4

0-1

4

3

6

Loflin

26

2-4

0-0

1-4

1

3

5

Garcia

4

0-1

0-0

0-0

0

0

0

Ramirez

27

3-5

4-6

1-9

0

2

10

Trujillo

9

0-1

0-2

1-2

0

3

0

Totals

160

14-34

12-25

5-38

9

18

46

Percentages: FG .412, FT .480. 3-Point Goals: 6-12, .500 (Giles 1-3, Loera 4-8, Loflin 1-1). Team Rebounds: 4. Blocked Shots: 4 (Bairos 4). Turnovers: 30 (Bairos 3, Giles, Loera 5, Magana 6, Loflin 5, Garcia 4, Ramirez 5, Trujillo). Steals: 9 (Bairos 2, Magana 2, Loflin 2, Ramirez 2, Trujillo).

MEMORIAL

Min

FGM-A

FTM-A

OR-TR

A

PF

PT

Murray

31

6-14

0-3

2-4

2

4

12

Parks

19

4-6

0-2

5-9

0

4

8

Weisert

22

1-4

1-2

2-3

1

2

4

Shakoor

30

1-11

0-0

0-1

2

4

3

James

30

5-18

1-2

3-12

3

4

11

Mangente

9

0-4

0-0

0-1

0

0

0

Phelps

7

0-2

0-0

2-3

1

2

0

Polache

6

0-2

0-0

1-2

0

1

0

Rankin

6

0-1

1-2

2-2

0

0

1

Totals

160

17-62

3-11

18-40

9

21

39

Percentages: FG .274, FT .273. 3-Point Goals: 2-19, .105 (Murray 0-3. Weisert 1-2, Shakoor 1-9, James 0-3, Mangente 0-1, Phelps 0-1). Team Rebounds: 3. Blocked Shots: 1 (Parks). Turnovers: 22 (Murray 6, Parks, Wesiert 3, Shakoor 5, James 2, Mangente 3, Phelps 2). Steals: 14 (Murray 3, Parks, Wesiert 3, Shakoor, James 3, Mangente 3).

Caruthers

12

10

11

13

46

Memorial

12

13

5

9

39

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