By Michelle Gardner
When the Chaffey College womens basketball team takes the court Friday in the first round of the Southern California Regional playoffs, it will be facing a team that plays much the same style.
The No. 9 seeded Panthers (24-7) will play at No. 8 Cerritos (24-8) at 7 p.m. Not only are the teams similar, they have played before. If that game is any indication of things to come the playoff game should be tightly contested.
The Falcons won the first game at a tournament hosted by Orange Coast 71-61. That game went to overtime as the teams ended regulation tied at 57.
They are very much like us, third-year Chaffey coach Gary Plunkett said. They like to run and we like to run.
Both of us play a motion offense where we like to spread the floor. It should be a great game. Our girls were excited about getting another chance at them.
The winner of the game will advance to face No. 2 seed Orange Coast (29-3).
The Panthers finished tied for third in the Foothill Conference. They have only two sophomores, one of them starting forward Christina Warren (13.5 ppg, 5 rpg) who netted 23 points the first time the teams played.
Joining her in the starting lineup are four freshmen – guards Tamesha Jackson (13.2 ppg, 3.3 apg) and Keisha Mackall (11.9 ppg, 3.6 apg), forward Aundria Anderson (10 ppg, 7.3 rpg) and 6-foot-1 center Johnshunay Parson (4.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg).
Zipporah Brown (5.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg), another freshman, has been a steady performer off the bench.
Cerritos, the first place team out of the South Division of the South Coast Conference, has four players averaging double figures led by sophomore guard Maltresa Neely (13.3 ppg, 7.7 rpg). The Falcons are ranked sixth in Southern California and 12th in the state. Plunkett is also quite familiar with the Falcons coaching staff.
Assistant Steve Johnson went to Alta Loma High School and coached in youth leagues in Rancho Cucamonga. He was also an assistant at Dominguez Hills at the same time Plunkett was there.
Cerritos head coach Karen Welliver is in her 25th year and has won more than 500 games. Plunkett recruited many of her players when he was with Dominguez Hills.
Knowing them so well will make it that much more fun, he said. I a looking forward to it.
Defending state champion Mt. SAC (32-1) begins defense of its title on Saturday. Coach Laura Beemans Mounties will host Santa Ana (18-13), which defeated Cuesta 65-56 Wednesday night in a play-in game.
Mt. SAC has won 32 straight games since dropping its season opener to Orange Coast and is led by conference player of the year Jazlyn Davis (18.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg), a bounceback from USC.
Other key players include 6-2 sophomore center Carmen Deal (15.4 ppg, 9.1 rpg), sophomore guard Sahfiya Brown (8.7 ppg, 6.8 rpg) and freshman guard Blaire Edgardo (9.1 ppg).
Citrus (30-1) is the lone area representative still left on the mens side. The top-seeded Owls open play against Imperial Valley (21-10) at 7 p.m. Saturday. The teams have not played this season.
Citrus is coming off its first Western States Conference title in 25 years and enters riding an 18-game win streak. Its last loss came to Antelope Valley in quarterfinal play at a tournament in Riverside in December.