Mt. San Jacinto CCCAA Women's Basketball Championship!! Eagles beat Merced, 81-52

Mt. San Jacinto 81, Merced 52
CCCAA Women's Basketball Championship game
Ventura College
Photo by Felix Cortez
Mt. San Jacinto 81, Merced 52 CCCAA Women's Basketball Championship game Ventura College Photo by Felix Cortez

Tournament Central

VENTURA, Calif.
– Kalia Gower's putback at the halftime buzzer propelled Mt. San Jacinto College into the lead and began a 17-point run from which Merced College could not recover as the Eagles won their first California Community College Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championship, 81-52, Sunday afternoon at Ventura College.

Following a first half that featured eight lead changes and three ties, Merced went completely cold in the third quarter, enduring a 9-minute scoring drought before Suzuna Shoji sank a 3-pointer for the Blue Devils' only points of the third quarter, with 1:15 left in the period. MSJ (32-2) had a 50-33 lead at that point and extended it from there en route to its first CCCAA team championship in any sport.

Gower, a 5-9 sophomore guard from Menifee High School, finished with game highs of 27 points and 17 rebounds. Britney Thomas, a 6-2 sophomore forward from Mt. San Jacinto High, had 22 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists for the Pacific Coast Conference co-champions and was selected to the all-tournament team. Delacy Brown, a 5-7 sophomore guard from Riverside Poly High, had 15 points, seven assists, and six rebounds in the finale after scoring 41 points in Mt. San Jacinto's 71-59 semifinal win over Northern California top seed Sierra. She was the tournament MVP.

"It's always the players that win the championship," said Mt. San Jacinto head coach Chris Mozga. "This is my 20th year as a coach in the CCCAA. It's taken a while but I'm just so proud of them, fighting through adversity all season long and being ready to play and that's the measure of what's made them so good this year. They're tough kids that will fight through some adversity, plus they're great players, obviously."
 
"We took care of the ball a little bit better in the third quarter," he added. "We had 11 turnovers at halftime so that was obviously too many. I think they picked up their intensity, played a little better defense and went and got rebounds."
 
Merced, co-champions of the Central Valley Conference and the first Northern California No. 4 seed to make the title game, finished 28-6.

The Blue Devils were led by their all-tournament duo of Tajaheray McMahon, with 16 points and four rebounds, and Trinity Washington, with 15 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

Merced made only 25.4 per cent of its field goal attempts (18 of 71) compared to 46.6 (34-73) for Mt. San Jacinto. The taller Eagles had a significant 63-33 rebound advantage.

--Mt. San Jacinto had previously made it to the 2013 state championship game before losing to Mt. San Antonio. The Eagles were also twice the runners-up in men's competition – in 1999 to Cerritos and in 1977 to Skyline in the then small college title game. (That division was discontinued after 1983.)

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Tajaheray McMahon, Merced
Trinity Washington, Merced
Britney Thomas, Mt. San Jacinto
Bri Moore, Sierra
Mikayla Mabie, Fresno City
MVP: Delacy Brown, Mt. San Jacinto

(Fred Baer, College of San Mateo Athletics)