Most Viewed Stories
Sutter girls knocked out by West Valley
Huskies' season ends in D-IV semis
As the smallest school in the Sacramento River League this season, the West Valley High girls basketball team learned what it takes to compete at the highest level of the Northern Section.
The Eagles, the defending Division IV section champions, finished 2-6 in league play and knew it would be an uphill battle to repeat in 2013.
The No. 5-seeded Eagles are getting used to road trips this postseason — they are more than happy to be making one more.
West Valley earned a return trip to Chico State's Acker Gym as the Eagles upset No. 1 Sutter on Tuesday night with a 49-41 victory.
The Eagles will face Anderson on Saturday at 11 a.m. in a rematch of last year's title game.
West Valley (15-14) knocked off No. 4 University Prep 46-38 in the quarterfinals and opened postseason play by defeating No. 12 Yreka at home.
"We've fought hard all season long," said West Valley coach Julie White. "We have a group of fighting kids, who all season long have kept that goal (of winning a section championship) in their minds."
The Eagles wasted little time on Tuesday, jumping out to a 9-1 lead over the Huskies in the first quarter and went up 11-5 after the first quarter.
Sutter fought back to begin the second quarter as Jaelyn Hoffman scored six points and Catie Gravel's free throw gave the Huskies their first and only lead of the game at 14-13 at the 5:24 mark.
West Valley took back the lead and would not trail the remainder of the contest as the Eagles went on a 9-2 run to take a 22-16 lead at halftime.
The undersized Eagles (average height of 5-foot-6) utilized their speed and ball movement ability to get open looks on offense. Defensively, they implemented a full-court press as the Huskies committed 17 turnovers.
"We've had to be warriors all season long," White said. "To play the number one seed is always a fun opportunity. Both teams battled."
Sutter came within three points after Destiny Stevenson scored five points in the fourth quarter to cut the West Valley lead to 35-32 — that's when West Valley junior Aubrey Mendonca took over.
The 5-5 point guard went on a 7-0 run by herself to extend the Eagles' lead to 10 points and put the game out of reach for the Huskies.
Sutter coach Dustin Ford said his team just made too many mental mistakes, especially in the fouls category. West Valley went to the free-throw line 20 times and made 15 of their shots.
"They're just way too good of a team to give extra opportunities to," Ford said. "The girls showed they can play with one of the best teams in the section ... I'm really proud of them."
Mendonca led all scorers with 17 points and teammate Taylor Ross dropped in 14 for the Eagles. Erika Larsen led Sutter with 11 points, Hoffman tacked on 10 and Destiny Stevenson had eight.
Despite the disappointment of falling one game short of playing for the section title, Sutter's players were encouraged by Ford following Tuesday's game as he reminded them of their accomplishments this season.
The Huskies became the first team since the 2000-01 squad to win the Butte View League title and Ford told his players to wear their championship T-shirts proudly.
"We've built this into a program where we compete every year," Ford said. "These girls have nothing to hang their heads about."
CONTACT Jimmy Graben at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4791. Find him on Facebook at advarsitysports or on Twitter at @ADjgraben