Mt. San Jacinto College’s women’s basketball team dominated the opposition in winning its first — and also the Pacific Coast Athletic Conference’s first — CCCAA state community college championship over the weekend at Ventura College.
But “dominate” doesn’t begin to describe what came down.
Coach Chris Mozga’s Eagles weren’t just frustrated by not getting another shot at PCAC North rival Palomar, which handed them their only two losses of the season. They were besides themselves.
And, picking up steam as they went along, they didn’t just dominate. They nuked anyone and everyone unfortunate enough to get in their way.
Palomar had lost only one game all season — to Mt. San Jacinto. Coach Lee Marshall’s Comets beat the Eagles in the finals of the MSJ tournament. Then the two rivals split their two PCAC North meetings. That left them in a tie for the conference championship.
But it was the Comets with only that one loss, who came into the weekend ranked No. 1 in California, garnering every first-place vote but one, which went to Sierra, the top-ranked and top seeded team in Northern California.
Mt. San Jacinto, sitting at No. 3 in the California Sports Information Association state poll with the two losses to Palomar, found itself seeded second among SoCal teams behind behind the top-seeded Comets. And to say the Eagles felt disrespected and obsessing about getting another shot at the Comets was a gross understatement.
But, after Merced, the No. 4 seed out of NorCal, stunned heavily favored Palomar in the opening game of the tournament Thursday afternoon after the Comets apparently tied the game in the closing seconds only to have two points taken off the scoreboard following an after-the-fact delayed foul call, Palomar suddenly was out of the tournament on the outside looking in.
And Mt. San Jacinto, watching its opportunity for a return shot at Palomar having sailed out the window, took it out on opponents unfortunate enough to get in its way.
Led by their two star players, State Tournament MVP Delacy Brown and all-tournament selection Britney Thomas, the hugely talented, extremely athletic and physical PCAC North Player of the Year local product out of San Jacinto High School who is universally considered to be the best female community college player in the state and possibly the nation, the Eagles first blew out No. 2 Northern California seed College of the Sequoias 65-46. Then they destroyed Sierra, the state’s second-ranked team, 71-59 in the semifinals as Brown, the sophomore out of Riverside Poly High, layed a 41-point performance on the NorCal top seed.
Then, in the state championship game vs. the tournament’s Cinderella team, Merced, the Eagles trailed in the first half, finally taking the lead on Menifee Heritage product Kaila Gower’s (27 points, 13-for-17 shooting, 17 rebounds) put back at the first-half buzzer.
In the third quarter, the Eagles blew Cinderella out of her carriage by a ridiculous 20-3 margin. They then put 26 points on the board in the fourth quarter, led 81-49 late in the game after Mozga cleared his bench and, after a meaningless 3-pointer in the closing seconds, left Merced on the floor bleeding and wounded wondering what the hell had just happened with a final 81-52 score showing on the board.