Lady Timberwolves renew acquaintances with Chico

Woodcreek opens NorCal tourney on the road
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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The Woodcreek High girls basketball team has a rare situation when it comes time to open the CIF State Basketball Championship tournament Tuesday night. While most teams get to this level and then face teams they know nothing about, the Lady Timberwolves travel to Chico to take on a Panther team that they have played, and beaten, this season as well as a year ago. The squads met in December in a preseason tournament, and Woodcreek was a 48-44 victor after knocking off Chico last year in the Whitney tournament. “We can play with this team,” said Woodcreek coach Ray Beck. “We beat them earlier in the year and we beat them last year, but teams have improved and things change.” The Timberwolves are coming off a tough outing in the Sac-Joaquin Section semifinal loss to St. Francis. They did not play at all well in the first quarter of that contest, so a good start will be crucial on Tuesday. Jennifer Judge is the constant for Beck, but he has a strong group of seniors to call on. Judge is one of the best shooters around, and she has the ability to put this team on her back and carry it to a big win. Maya Cabiness will need to handle the ball well and get back on defense to keep Chico from getting out and running, and it will really help Woodcreek if Cara Jones can dominate on the glass. A pair of 5-foot-10 players are the leaders of the Panther attack. Clara Chrisco has a quality mid-range game and does a nice job taking the ball to the basket. She leads her team in scoring with nearly 13 points per contest. Anna Bartel scores nearly 12 per night, most of them from her position inside as a post player. “They really look to push the ball up the floor so we need to be ready to transition back to defense,” Beck said. “They are used to winning as they don't face the depth of the competition that we face throughout the whole year, but they are usually in the North Section Finals and then get to go on to NorCals.” Beck sees that transition defense as one of his team’s keys to winning, along with staying out of foul trouble and shooting the ball well, something that did not happen against St. Francis. With a boys game also being played tonight in Chico, this girls game will tip off at 6 p.m. The boys game that follows will also be of interest to the Woodcreek contingent as the Timberwolves’ boys team will host the winner in a Thursday night second round battle.