Strong second provides surge to push Fresno City into state semifinals

Photo by Felix Cortez
Photo by Felix Cortez

Tournament Central

VENTURA, Calif. - All five starters for Fresno City College scored in double figures, including 18 points and 10 rebounds from Jasmine Phoolka, as the Rams used a big third quarter to turn around a two-point halftime deficit into an eight-point lead during Thursday's 88-81 win over L.A. Trade-Tech in a quarterfinal showdown at the 2018 California Community College Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championships at Ventura College.

The victory propels Fresno (27-5) to an all-Central Valley Conference semifinal matchup against Merced (27-5) at 1 p.m. The teams have split four games this year.

Orionna Shirley scored 24 points and Deejanae Poland added 18 for the Beavers (24-7).

The Rams got big contributions from its entire starting lineup. Mikayla Mabie scored 15 points, Bria Fernandes added 14, Julia Cuellar pitched in with 13 and Jazmine Taylor finished with 11 to support Phoolka's big game.

L.A. Trade-Tech had the upper hand in a high-scoring first quarter, taking 24-20 lead after a big quarter from Shirley. The sophomore from Los Angeles hit 4 of 6 shots and both of her free throws for 10 points while Kermanie Patterson, who had 14 points and 13 rebounds, had five boards.

The Beavers led by as many as six points in the second quarter but never trailed by more than two as the teams remained tight until halftime. Shirley, though, gave L.A. Trade-Tech a 41-39 lead at the break after her three-pointer with just two seconds left.

The third period, however, belonged to Fresno which picked up a trio of 3-pointers from Fernandes over the first 2 minutes, 20 seconds of the quarter to keep pace with the Beavers and eventually give the Rams a 48-46 lead. Four layups and six free throws by Julia Cuellar helped sparked a 16-5 run over the final four minutes of the quarter to give Fresno a 71-63 lead going into the final quarter.

Fresno led by as many as 13 points in the final eight minutes but Kamara Smith's layup with 2:10 left brought L.A. Tech to within 84-79 but that would be as close as they'd get the rest of the way.

Fresno connected on 30 of 36 (.833) free throws to help its cause. Smith was the fourth player for the Beavers to reach double figures, scoring 11 points.