Basketball Advances to Section Semifinals
SACRAMENTO, Calif. ““ Seniors Kyra Huffman, Lauren Craig and Tia Hay combined for 50 points to lead third-seeded St. Francis to 67-62 win over No. 6 Lincoln of Stockton. The Troubadours (25-4) advance to the section semifinals for the first time since 2011.
“The key was to have faith outweigh fear,” said Head Coach Vic Pitton. “We showed no signs of fear, even when we made mistakes. We had faith in ourselves and our teammates. It was a collective effort and we made the free throws that were necessary down the stretch. It showed a lot of the character that has developed this season.”
Huffman led the team with her 18 points to go with seven boards, while Craig finished with 17 points and 15 rebounds for her 25th double-double of the season and 10th consecutive.
“It is amazing,” said Huffman. “We have never gone this far (in my career) and it is exciting to break that second round mark.”
St. Francis and Lincoln battled tight in a first quarter that featured four ties and four lead changes. The Trojans led by as many as six points in the second quarter 22-16. But the Troubadours went on 10-0 run to take the lead and finished the half on a 15-3 stretch to lead by six at the break.
“All that was going through my mind is that I wanted to win more than anything,” said Craig, who scored 12 of her 17 in the first half. “I wanted this team to advance to UOP and I am so happy we won.”
Pitton credited Craig with her strong play in the first half.
“She really controlled the boards and played solid defense in the paint,” said Pitton. “Her offense was timely and she made her free throws. She has really developed this year into someone who is capable of carrying a team for a period of time. Fortunately, we don’t need someone to carry us for a whole game. There are times we need to be carried and today she put them on her shoulders in the first half.”
St. Francis pushed the lead to double digits early in the third quarter but Lincoln never gave up. They cut the deficit to five with 1:30 left in the quarter before Hay, who added 15 boards with five assists, and five steals, scored on a steal and layup that sparked a 7-0 run to push the lead back to 46-34.
“We had to pick up our defense and eliminate the turnovers to keep playing our game and keep our composure,” said Craig.
Leading by 13 at 59-46 in the fourth quarter, the Trojans used the three-ball to make a late push, hitting six triples in the fourth quarter. Zahria Hendrix finished with a game-high 32 points with five three-pointers to lead Lincoln.
St. Francis made 20-of-28 free throws in the game to seal the victory.
“It is what a championship team has to do,” said Pitton. “You have to make your free throws down the stretch.”
Janae Fairbrook added nine points and Jackie Koerwitz and Julia Razo each scored four.
St. Francis earns a berth in the Nor Cal Tournament and will face Oak Ridge on Tuesday at University of Pacific in a section semifinal game. Oak Ridge was a 40-33 winner over McClatchy. Game time will be announced on Friday or Saturday.
St. Francis 67, Lincoln 62
Lincoln 16 9 9 28 62
St. Francis 15 16 12 24 67
SF ““ Huffman 18, Craig 17, Hay 15, Fairbrook 9, Koerwitz 4, Razo 4. L ““ Hendrix 32, Rabena 9, Tillman 6, Anices 6, Manipal 5, Kelly 2, Leapaga 2.