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Alexander great in final 80 seconds

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Alexander great in final 80 seconds

Kelli Laughlin lobs a pass into the post for a Weston Ranch teammate.

JONAMAR JACINTO/The Bulletin/


POSTED February 26, 2014 12:28 a.m.

STOCKTON – Elisabeth Alexander sold the pump fake, lifting her defender into the air.

The Weston Ranch junior stepped inside the 3-point line and leaned into her floater, kissing the eventual game-winning bucket off the glass.

El Camino’s Destinee Bowie may have put up the monster numbers during Tuesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoff opener, frustrating the Cougars with her length and tenaciousness on the boards.

But it was Alexander’s poise down the stretch – and perhaps her fresh legs, too – that proved to be the difference for the sixth-seeded Cougars.

Alexander didn’t play much in the second half on Tuesday because of foul trouble, but her contributions late sealed a wildly uneven 60-58 victory over No. 11 El Camino.

Weston Ranch led by as many 10 points three times in the second half, but needed a flurry over the final 80 seconds to secure a second-round showdown with No. 3 Patterson in Patterson on Thursday.

Alexander finished with 11 points and five rebounds, and had a nifty pass to Victoria Gulley to ignite the late charge.

“She is a difference maker. She eats up space on defense. She’s able to rebound well and shoot the ball well; gives us another dribbler and gives us another scorer,” Weston Ranch Coach Chris Bauer said of Alexander, who was banished to the bench with four fouls at the start of the fourth quarter.

“Without her, we’re not three-dimensional. We become two-dimensional and we lose a lot.”

Alexander steered Weston Ranch away from defeat, forgoing a corner 3 for the decisive floater.

“I felt like I had to go out there and try my hardest to get that bucket,” she said.

Three other players scored in double figures for the Cougars (19-8), now just one win shy of their second 20-win season in three years.

Rauline Martinez scored 11 of her team-high 13 points in the first half as the Weston Ranch flirted with a rout. The Cougars charged into the break ahead 34-24, countering a 10-2 El Camino run with an 8-0 run of its own.

A.J. Brown and Teressa Haley had 11 and 10 points, respectively, for Weston Ranch.

Bowie had 30 points, 20 rebounds and three blocked shots, fueling each El Camino charge by being relentless on the boards.

Alexander was poised to have a big night of her own. She scored  nine points in the first half, but spent most of the third quarter on the bench with three personal fouls.

Her return to the floor in the fourth quarter was short-lived. She was tagged with her fourth foul just 30 seconds into the frame and summoned back to the bench by Bauer.

Alexander slumped off the floor, clearing the lane for Bowie, whose wingspan allowed her to play taller and longer than her 6-foot frame.

“It was very frustrating, because nobody was rebounding,” Alexander said. “It was hard to watch the ball go back and forth to (Bowie).”

Bowie had 23 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Her traditional three-point play with 3:45 left in the game gave the Eagles their first lead, 54-53.

As she did for most of her points, Bowie created the scoring opportunity with an offensive rebound.

“It was a lot of ‘Here I am, I got the ball. Here I am, I got the ball,’ ” Bauer said. “She didn’t make a move to beat us. She was a beneficiary of (our foul trouble and defense).”

The challenge only gets taller for the “tiny little” Cougars. Patterson features three active forwards – 6-footer Mele Tupouata (6.3 points, 8.0 rebounds), 5-11 Ariyanna Cashen (5.6 rebounds) and 6-1 Danielle Jenkins (6.4 ppg, 4.7 rebounds) – and handled No. 14 Benicia on Tuesday evening, 64- 21.

Bauer needs better defense from his guards, who struggled to contain El Camino’s Brianna Luna and Alexis Price. Their dribble penetration created space for Bowie to move about the lane.

“When we go to play Patterson, they got bigs and they use their bodies well,” Bauer said. “We have to do a better on the inside and the guards have to contain and keep them in front of us for us to be successful with our tiny little people.”

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