Vanden girls win, advance to SJS Division III semifinals

By From page B7 | February 28, 2014

27 bball 01

Vanden's Mariah Williams, right, battles for the ball against East Union's Loretta Kakala during the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls basketball quarterfinals at Vanden High School in Fairfield, Thursday. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD — There was bad news for the Vanden High girls basketball team, Thursday night: It took nearly 1 1/2 minutes to get a basket.

There was also good news for the Vikings: They scored 10 of the first 12.

After a semi-slow start, Vanden used a 16-2 run to finish the first quarter and never looked back en route to a 81-40 drubbing of East Union of Manteca in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at Jim Boyd Gym.

The top-seeded Vikings advance to the D-III semifinals, Tuesday, where they will face No. 4 Florin of Sacramento, which defeated Christian Brothers 60-50, at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.

Even with the blowout, it was the prettiest win for the Vikings (23-5) as they committed numerous fouls, some questionable, but that doesn’t bother coach Allison Johnson too much.

“It’s just getting back to discipline and moving our feet,” Johnson said. “I think it’s an easy fix. Without playing with Kiana (Moore) tonight (because an injury, it was difficult). She’s a great defensive presence. We’ll probably have her back on Tuesday.”

Moore suffered an ankle injury in Tuesday’s win over Pioneer of Woodland.

No. 8 East Union hung at 34-19 late in the second quarter and was only down 37-20 at the half, but the Vikings were just getting warmed up.

Vanden started the second half on a 17-3 run, upping the score to 54-23 with 3 minutes, 25 second to play in the third quarter, using its pressure defense to cause the Lancers to turn the ball over. East Union finished with 39 turnovers, while the Vanden lost the ball just 14 times.

The Vikings continued their pressure in the fourth period, allowing just one basket to the Lancers – with 7:19 to go – while making six baskets of their own, including two long 3-pointers by Kayla Blair before she fouled out.

Blair, who got into foul trouble in the third period, also had two 3-pointers in that period and finished with a game-high 25 points.

“She hit four 3-pointers in the second half and she was still turning down some shots,” Johnson said. “I thought she was pretty powerful.”

After Blair it was a balanced scoring attack for Vanden. Chantell Greer scored 11, Julia Blackshell-Fair and Brittney Livingston each had eight, while Brittany Kirbyson, Azanaé Lewis, Mariah Williams and Aleseana Whitney each scored six.

East Union freshman Loretta Kakala, who stands 6-foot-2, led the Lancers with 16 points.

Now that Vanden swept it’s two home playoffs games to start the postseason, it must now head out on the road to neutral sites, the first at Cosumnes River. If the Vikings win there, they’ll advance to the section championship at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento next Friday.

Having to play on the road doesn’t faze Johnson.

“We like going on the road,” the coach said. “Of course we like playing at home, but we love going in the road. We’ve been to Arizona, Tennessee, Oregon. . . . We travel well. Whether it’s an hour away or a couple of hours away, or at home, we’re ready to go.”

Reach Brian Arnold at 427-6969 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/barnolddr.

Brian Arnold

Brian Arnold

1992 graduate of San Francisco State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism.

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