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Donja Payne repeats as NorCal Player of the Year
EU grad stars for state semifinalist Delta; MJC’s Sausedo named to all-state 2nd team
ALUM Donja Payne
Delta College forward Donja Payne looks to score while having her shot challenged by West Hills College defender Gabriella Matlock in a NorCal Regional opener last Thursday, March 3. - photo by Wayne Thallander

Donja Payne and the Delta College women’s basketball team have picked up where they left off two years ago, only this time they’re looking to finish the job.

ALUM Reina Sausedo
Reina Sausedo - photo by Photo courtesy of MJC
On Wednesday, the 6-foot-2 sophomore forward was awarded the NorCal State Player of the Year honor for a second time during the California Community College Women’s Basketball Association Banquet of Champions. Ripon High product Reina Sausedo, a freshman guard for Modesto Junior College, made the all-state second team.

A 2019 East Union High graduate, Payne also named NorCal Co-Player of the Year for the 2019-20 season, which was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. Delta was 29-1 and was riding a 22-game winning streak.

The one-year layoff has not affected the Mustangs’ play on the court. The Big 8 Conference co-champions are now a game away from playing for the state championship.

Seeded No. 1 out of NorCal, Delta (29-2) defeated Palomar (26-3) 72-66 on Thursday at West Hills College in Lemoore to reach the California Community College Athletic Association semifinals. Payne contributed 12 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and two steals. The game also featured the SoCal Player of the Year, as Deejanae Harvey racked up 23 points, eight rebounds, six steals and five assists for SoCal No. 4 seed Palomar, which had a 16-game winning streak snapped.

Payne and the Mustangs take on SoCal No. 2 Irvine Valley (26-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. The championship game is on Sunday at 1.

The other semifinal pits NorCal No. 4 College of the Sequoias (24-5) and NorCal No. 2 Sierra (26-3), which shares the Big 8 title with Delta. Lathrop High grad Ayon Carter chipped in four points and four rebounds in Sequoias’ 69-66 upset of SoCal No. 1 Mt. San Antonio College on Thursday.

For the season, Payne is averaging 14.3 points on 57% shooting, 11.0 rebounds, 2.4 blocks and 2.3 steals. She has recorded 16 double-doubles. Some of her most dominant performances have come in big games, such as her 25-point, 23-rebound outburst against No. 2 state-ranked Sierra. Delta swept Sierra in conference play.

Sausedo shined in her freshman campaign at MJC (20-7). She scored a season-high 32 points in the Pirates’ 72-61 stunner over Delta. Their season ended in the opening round of the postseason. Sausedo averaged a team-best 18.1 points to go with 8.7 rebounds and 3.4 assists. She also made 36.4% of her 3-pointers and 77.6% of her free throws.

MJC finished ranked No. 16 in the final regular-season poll with Delta claiming the top spot.