Cougars do it with defense: section championship game is next
The Weed High School girls basketball team is returning to the section championship game with one thought in mind: win it.
That’s been the goal since the start of the season, Cougar head coach Bob West said after Tuesday night’s 43-26 semifinal win over Etna.
And there’s no arguing with West’s post-game assessment of another outstanding defensive performance by his team: “It’s really what we are, truly a defensive team,” he said.
The Cougars held Etna to 5 points in the first half Tuesday night after holding Modoc to 5 points in the second half of Friday night’s quarterfinal win.
Fans packed Weed’s gymnasium for the all-Siskiyou County, all-Shasta Cascade League semifinal.
Etna scored the game’s initial basket with 5:10 on the clock in the first quarter. Weed finally scored about a minute later and led 12-2 at quarter’s end. By half time the lead was 17-5. It was 28-13 after three quarters.
It was a physical game: both teams got called for a lot of personal fouls and both shot a lot of free throws. Weed was 13 for 26 from the free throw line, Etna was 8 for 30.
Jill Neel, who missed all of the Cougars’ run to the 2013 section championship game because of injury last year, made 2 three-point baskets in the first quarter, 2 more in the third, and led all scorers with 16 points.
Marielle Schnack, another Weed senior who missed last year with a knee injury, scored her 8 points in the second half, 6 in the fourth quarter.
Sophomore Angel Whatley, who started the season on the JV team, scored 8 points.
Starting juniors Elyssa Fisher and Destinee Jones, key members of last year’s varsity team as sophomores, scored 5 and 4.
Junior Johanna Stensaas added a fourth quarter basket.
Etna’s leading scorers, senior Elida Pelayo and juniors Sage Gomes and Hannah Little, scored 5 points each.
West said one of the great things about the Cougars is their depth. When players got into foul trouble Tuesday night, someone came off the bench to fill the position well.
Contributors included senior Lauren Gubetta, juniors Tia Palangvanh, Taylor Harris, Paige Miller, Mallory Pappas and McKenna Crabill.
Undefeated SCL champion Weed, the playoff’s No. 2 seed, improved to 23-5 overall.
No. 11 Etna, which got to the semifinal with a pair of road playoff wins at No. 4 Portola and No. 3 Mount Shasta, finishes 17-11.
Neel noted the historical significance of being the first Weed girls team to reach the section championship game two years in a row.
West said he’s proud of the players and how hard they work. “They come to work every day.”
He said the team’s goal since day one has been winning the section championship. They’ll get that opportunity Friday at 2:30 p.m. at Shasta College in Redding.