PATTERSON — Patterson head coach Elizabeth Tolleson burned two timeouts in the first three-plus minutes of the fourth quarter to give her overtaxed players a breather.
The Tigers didn’t have their shooting legs under them and were making silly turnovers. The scoring lull gave visiting Weston Ranch a glimmer of hope in Thursday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division III quarterfinal, also a rematch of their showdown from last season in the same round of the playoffs.
This nine-player Patterson team isn’t as deep as last year’s rendition, which wore teams down with constant pressure on both ends of the floor from tipoff to buzzer. But these Tigers are proving to be every bit as good.
Boosted by the outside shooting of Shealyn Craven early and the interior strength of Ariyanna Cashen, fourth-seeded Patterson raced away from the No. 5 Cougars, 66-51.
“It’s exhausting, especially since we hardly subbed today,” Tolleson said. “These girls have had to push through it and have the mental toughness to fight.”
Weston Ranch (21-7) scored five unanswered points to start the fourth quarter and closed in 53-40 after Teresa Haley made one of two free throws. Patterson (26-3) countered with a back-breaking 7-0 run sparked by two straight fastbreak buckets from Cashen and punctuated by the last of Craven’s four 3-pointers on the night.
Cashen could not be stopped in the low block, as she powered her way to 26 points and 18 rebounds. Danielle Jenkins, a 6-foot-1 center, added 10 points, and Craven scored 15 of her 18 in the first half.
“Ariyanna Cashen is just a beast on the boards,” Tolleson said. “She gets those rebounds and finds ways to get then back up even with girls literally hanging on her arms.”
Patterson encounters top-seeded Vanden in the semifinals next Tuesday at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento.
A slow start ultimately cost the Cougars, who never led. They were able to stay within reach late in the fourth quarter thanks to back-to-back 3-pointers from Elisabeth Alexander, but Patterson closed the half on an 11-2 run and led 39-23 at halftime.
“We looked up and it was 17-3,” Weston Ranch coach Chris Bauer said. “We got punched in the mouth early and couldn’t recover for it. We dug ourselves a hole, cut it back to eight or nine and then we give up another 6-0 run.
“It didn’t help that we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole. We had our looks, we had layups, and we had second, third and fourth opportunities. We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole.”
Alexander scored 15 points on all 3s in her final game for Weston Ranch. The 5-11 guard also collected six steals. She will continue her playing career at CSU Stanislaus.
Fellow senior Patricia King contributed 12 points, six rebounds, four steals and four assists. Haley chipped in 13 points, and Victoria Gulley grabbed eight boards.
“The seniors left everything out here on the court,” Bauer said. “Now the sophomores and juniors got taste of what it’s like. All we can do is learn from this and move on.
“Overall, a 21-win season is a school record and for this group it’s overachieving. It wasn’t the season everybody thought it was going to be but with the drama and the turmoil that we went through we overachieved. I’m proud of every single one of these kids.”