Sierra womens basketball advances with win over Ohlone

Wolverines host No. 5 City College of San Francisco tonight 7 p.m.
By: Matt Folsom/Placer Herald Sports
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The Sierra College women’s basketball team will go as far as Ericka Magana takes them.

That was never more evident than in Friday’s NorCal quarterfinals, as the Wolverine point guard’s triple-double led fourth-seeded Sierra to a 79-53 wipeout of No. 13 Ohlone College at Goto/Goldenberg Court in Rocklin.

Magana, recently named to the California Community College Athletic Association All-State team, finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, to power the Wolverines (22-8) into Wednesday’s regional semifinal in Rocklin.

“Ericka set the tone,” said Sierra mentor Brandie Murrish. “She was not going to be denied. She has shown tremendous growth since last year. Just look at her going 10-13 from the line tonight. She came up big when it mattered.”

It took Magana only 10 seconds to get things going with an assist to Tina Mandich for a layup. Four minutes later, the Wolverines (22-8) were up 12-2 and the Renegades (19-10), who would get no closer, were about to get blown out of the gym.

A stifling Sierra press held Ohlone to only seven first-half buckets, as the Wolverines headed to the locker room with a 43-24 lead.

The Renegades had no answer for the Wolverine defense and transition game. The two teams had met three times since early last season in which the Wolverines won two.

“Ohlone wanted revenge,” said Murrish afterwards. “They have a lot of weapons, but, having played them as often as we had, we knew our pressure could wear them down. They wanted to stop our 3-point shooters and force us to beat them with our inside game, which is exactly what we wanted to do.”

The Renegades did limit Sierra’s Dakota McLarnan and super-sub Joie Camalo.

The primary beneficiary of Sierra’s inside focus was the 6-1 Mandich, who finished with a career-high 22 points. The Woodcreek high school product was 9-14 from the field. Fellow post player Jasmine Shedrick, who finished with 10 points, teamed with Mandich to execute the Murrish game plan to perfection.

“Our post game looked the best it has all season,” Murrish said. “Tina was so effective playing through contact and she and Jaz knew exactly where they were supposed to be.”

The Renegades ran out of gas early trying to break Sierra’s full-court press and fast break. The fitness disparity between the teams, particularly in the second half, was glaring. Murrish credited a unique method for this.

“We’ve been working out at Rocklin Crossfit all season. They have given us a new sense of confidence and pushed these athletes to a different level.

“Our fans give us an amazing home-court advantage. You play so hard during the regular season to get home playoff games. Our fans, Roz Goldenberg and our game management staff, and our table create the best atmosphere of any community college I’ve seen in the state.”

Perhaps Ohlone’s Megan Scully summed up the Goto/Goldenberg Court advantage best. As the exhausted 5-9 forward emerged from the Renegade locker room after the game, she said, “I hate playing here. We never win here. The whole place just wears me out.”

The Wolverines host fifth-seeded City College of San Francisco (25-3), 98-80 winners Saturday night over Contra Costa, Wednesday night at 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s winner faces either No. 1 San Joaquin Delta (25-5) or No. 8 Merced (21-9). The CCCAA state championship tournament will be March 14-16 at Cerritos College.