Greg LaCount has watched Madison Wong knock down big shots for three years, so the Elk Grove High School girls basketball coach wasn’t surprised to see another one.
Wong hit a late three-pointer for the lead and teammate Ashley Williams sealed the Thundering Herd victory with two free throws as No. 10 Elk Grove defeated No. 7 Golden Valley 51-47 on Tuesday night in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs at Cougar Arena.
“Madison has been doing that since she started as a freshman,” LaCount said. “Nobody has outshot her the last three years, and nobody will outshoot her next year. She’s hit some big threes for us.”
In a seesaw game that saw six lead changes in the fourth quarter, it was Wong (eight points) making the biggest shot.
Kayla Commons had just given Golden Valley a 47-46 lead with 1:45 left.
Before Camille Flores could close on her, Wong got the ball on the wing and made a three-pointer to give the Herd a 49-47 lead with 1:15 left.
The Cougars (23-4) had a couple opportunities to answer on their next possession, as Flores misfired on a three and Stephanie Moore missed on a drive with 45 seconds left.
Williams then put away the game by rebounding her miss as the shot clock expired. Williams went back up and drew a foul from Moore with 13 seconds left. She calmly made both free throws to extend the Elk Grove lead to 51-47.
Golden Valley turned over the ball, and the Herd (19-9) was eventually able to run out the clock.
“You’ve got to tip your hat,” Cougars coach Matt Thissen said. “They hit the big shot and knocked down two big free throws. We had some opportunities. I’m sure there are a couple shots in the paint we’d like to have back. (Elk Grove) is a very good team, and it’s been a long time since we’ve been in a game that came down to the end.”
It was a tough loss for the Cougars, who fought hard without freshman point guard Delia Moore, who injured her knee in the regular-season finale against Riverbank.
The task was even more difficult with star Stephanie Moore (20 points), who shifted to point guard, playing through foul trouble the whole game.
“It prevented me from being as aggressive as I usually am,” Moore said. “I had to rely on my teammates to help out, and they did a great job.”
Elk Grove’s Mira Shulman led all scorers with 23 points.
Golden Valley couldn’t find a second scorer to step up with Delia Moore sidelined and Flores (six points) being face-guarded much of the game. Elk Grove sent double-teams Stephanie Moore’s way once she crossed half court with the ball.
Commons stepped up late with all six of her points in the fourth quarter.
“It was a very rewarding season,” Thissen said. “As much as we’ll miss our seniors, we can’t help but be excited for our prospects next year with so many returning players.”
Sun-Star staff writer Shawn Jansen can be reached at (209) 385-2462 or firstname.lastname@example.org.