Sierra women to face familiar foe

By: Cecil Conley, Sports Editor
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Here they go again. Brandie Murrish and her Sierra College women’s basketball team will face a familiar foe in the semifinals of the Northern California Regional playoffs Saturday night in Santa Rosa. Sierra (20-11) lost twice to Santa Rosa (21-11) in the Big 8 Conference, but that was then as far as Murrish is concerned. She is confident her team will be ready to give Santa Rosa all it can handle. The eighth-seeded Wolverines bolstered their coach’s confidence Wednesday night with an 80-75 victory at No. 1 Fresno City. Santa Rosa is seeded fourth in the 18-team Northern California playoffs. Fresno City (27-5) had scored 90 or more points in 14 games and 100 or more five times. Defense was the difference for Sierra in erasing an 11-point deficit in the second half to pull out the victory. “We had a great defensive effort,” Murrish said. Balanced scoring also paid dividends for Sierra. Sophomore Tori Carroll had 19 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Victoria Turner added 16, including two free throws with 11 seconds to play. Sophomores Sam Hodge and Ashlynn Lussier each scored 13 points. Sophomore Kristen Huffman contributed 10 points and 10 rebounds. Sierra is one of eight teams still standing in the state playoffs, but the top eight will not advance to the state tournament this season. Budget cuts have turned the tournament into a final four. A win Saturday night will send the Wolverines to Ventura College for the state semifinals March 12. Sierra will have a score to settle after losing 60-58 at Santa Rosa on Feb. 8. Santa Rosa won by 23 points at Sierra on Jan. 14. Murrish is not thinking of the past at this point of a long season. “We were not on the same page (in January),” she said. “We’ve got a little mojo going right now.”