The Eagles (31-2) will play Merced College (28-5) in Sunday's 1 p.m. championship game. Merced defeated Fresno City College, 65-49, in the other semi. Sierra finished 30-2.
Mt. San Jacinto led, 49-43, entering the final period but three quick baskets (two by Shanel Jamison) put the Wolverines ahead, 50-49. The two teams traded leads briefly until a field goal by Thomas put the Eagles ahead for good at 53-52 with 7:39 left in the game.
Brown and Thomas orchestrated a 13-3 run that left Mt. San Jacinto in command at 64-55 with 2:35 left in the game – at the same time Sierra lost the first of three key starters to fouls.
In addition to combing for 62 of MSJ's 71 points, the pair controlled the boards with 35 rebounds between them – more than the team total of 34 for Sierra. Thomas, a 6-2 sophomore forward out of San Jacinto High School, had 25 rebounds, two steals, and a block. Brown, a 5-7 sophomore guard from Poly (Riverside), had ten rebounds and two steals. The only other Mt. San Jacinto player with more than two points was Octavia Williams with six.
State No. 2 scorer Bri Moore (24.4 points per game) of Sierra picked up her fourth foul with 7:20 left in the game and fouled out with 50 seconds to go. The 5-8 sophomore guard out of Weston Ranch High School (Stockton) led her team in scoring with 21 points; also in steals (6) and assists (5). Jamison, a 5-8 freshman guard from Natomas High, had 18 points before fouling out. Sierra was called for 31 fouls while MSJ was whistled 19 times.
Sierra had led, 16-14, after one quarter, and, 32-31, at halftime -- with Moore scoring 11 points and Jamison nine. Brown had 15 points for MSJ at the break.
--This will be the first championship game appearance for Merced, while Mt. San Jacinto lost in the 2013 title game to Mt. San Antonio.