Diablo Valley wins its first-ever CCCAA Women's Basketball State Championship with close win over Moorpark

Diablo Valley, CCCAA Champions (Mike Baker)
Diablo Valley, CCCAA Champions (Mike Baker)

CCCAA Basketball Championship Tournament Central
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VENTURA - Diablo Valley College didn't let a slow start derail its goal of winning the program's first-ever state title on Sunday, turning a 16-point first-half deficit around on the Vikings' way to a 68-61 victory over Moorpark College in the California Community College Athletic Association Women's Basketball Championship game on Sunday afternoon at Ventura College.

Jahnay Anderson, one of three Vikings to play all 40 minutes, scored a team-high 21 points while tournament MVP Zahria Hendrix posted a 12-point, 12-rebound double-double. Anderson was named to the all-tournament team along with teammate Sierra Smith.

Breanna Calhoun a game-high 23 points for Moorpark while Jazzy Carasco had 15 and Emily Herring added 12. Calhoun earned all-tournament honors for Moorpark along with post player Barbara Rangel.

Both teams entered the state championship tournament as the top seeds of their respective regions and played a game worthy of those seeds; each team taking big leads and then having to try and withstand charges from the other. 

Hendrix canned a three-pointer less than 10 seconds into the game to stake the Vikings to an early lead but the rest of the quarter belonged to Moorpark, which responded by scoring 21 of the next 28 points to take a 21-10 lead at the break. Rangel, Herring and Calhoun each scored six points to help Moorpark race out to the big lead.

Carrasco's second trey of the game made it 24-10 early in the second quarter while Calhoun's jumper stretched it to 16 points (26-10), the Raiders' largest of the game.

Diablo Valley, though, wasn't about to go away, turning the tables on Moorpark to get back into the game and they did it via the long ball thanks to three consecutive three-pointers from Jasmine Kong, sandwiched between one from Hendrix and two from Anderson.

Their lights-out shooting, along with a defensive effort that held Moorpark to just three layups the rest of the half, helped whittle the big deficit to just 34-30 at intermission.

"We play in a really tough (Big 8) conference, so we've been down before," said head coach Ramaundo Vaughn. "Our kids are always composed. The fact that most of them are sophomores – they never lose their composure.  And they shoot the ball so well that they know, once our kids start hitting some, we've got a chance.

"We just had to do what we do," he added. "It wasn't a whole lot different, it was just, 'Hey, you know what? We've played 32 games, just keep doing what we've been doing, that's been successful.'

Moorpark got up by seven in the opening moments of the third quarter but DVC stayed close, eventually tying the game midway through the period when Daisha Abdelkader nailed a three-pointer to knot the game, 45-45. The game remained close but the Vikings closed with an 8-2 run in the final three minutes to lead 55-50 heading into the final quarter.

It was Diablo Valley's turn to then take a big lead, getting two treys from Anderson and a layup from Leilani Moncrease to go up 63-51 with just under eight minutes to play. Moorpark, though, refused to go away, holding the Vikings scoreless for seven minutes down the stretch while capitalizing on the effort to only trail 63-61 with 53 seconds remaining.

Moorpark was able to get four steals inside the final two minutes thanks to strong defensive pressure but was only able to get two points from it. Smith's two free throws with 23 ticks to go made it 65-61 and the Vikings were able to take it home from there. 

"I think we're a better defensive team that people give us credit for," Vaughn said. "We led the state in scoring, but we do a really job defending. Moorpark averaged 86-88 (points) and we held them to 61."

Hendrix had similar thoughts. 

"They play really hard," she said. "It's a game of runs. They went on their runs and then it was just our time." 

Both teams were appearing in their first CCCAA Championship game.

(Mike Robles, CCCAA)