Chowchilla High girls basketball coach Don Smith made good on a promise he made three years ago to then freshman Alison Cargill. Now a senior, Cargill hasn't forgotten it.
It was one of the first things she thought of after the second-seeded Tribe defeated No. 3 Rosamond 48-29 in the Central Section Division V semifinals on Wednesday night to punch their ticket to the Valley Championship game on Friday at Selland Arena.
"My freshman year we lost in the second round," Cargill said. "Coach grabbed my hand and promised me we'd get to the Valley Championship game before I graduated. This means the world to me."
There were tears, screams and outright jubilation for the Chowchilla players as the Tribe (16-12) now has an opportunity to win their first girls basketball Valley Championship since 1987.
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Chowchilla will face No. 5 seed Firebaugh in the championship game at 2 p.m. The Eagles upset No. 1 East Bakersfield in the other semifinals 55-51 on Wednesday night.
"This means a lot because it hasn't happened here in 30 years," Cargill said. "I knew this team would make it from the beginning. We're just so close. We're like a family."
It took the whole family to get it done as Cargill found herself in early foul trouble.
In stepped in freshman Hannah Stockton. Cargill calls Stockton her Mini-Me and Stockton showed why, playing Cargill's aggressive style. Stockton attacked the boards and controlled the paint, scoring nine points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
"I just try to fill in everywhere and play hard," Stockton said.
"That's my Mini-Me," Cargill said. "I want her to do well. (Smith) came over to me during the game and said, 'Your Mini-Me is taking over for you.' We learn from each other in practice. Even though she's a freshman, I still learn from her.
"I expect by the time she's a senior she better get a full-ride scholarship to a D-1 school. I see it happening for her if she goes after it."
It wasn't just Stockton carrying the load.
The Tribe got production from all 10 players who played. They dominated the boards and got after it on defense.
"We didn't get into any type of rhythm offensively in that first half," Smith said. "We just slowly pulled away with everyone playing their role. At the half we had 39 to their 16 shots from the field. When you get more shots up, good things will happen. We didn't shoot as well as last game, but our tough defense and playing smart carried us through."
The Tribe took control of the game with a 12-0 run to close the first quarter and the bench accounted for eight of those points. The bench scored 12 of Chowchilla's 25 points in the first half as the Tribe took a 25-13 lead into the locker room.
The lead never slipped under 10 points in the second half.
Chowchilla got production up and down the roster.
Sam Rico scored 10 points to go a long with 11 rebounds and three steals. Cargill added 10 points, eight rebounds and two steals. Adriana Felsinger only scored three points, but contributed eight rebounds and six steals.
Pria Cooper came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds.
"This group is really special," Smith sad. "We talked about getting to this point all year long. All 10 players play a role. If that doesn't happen then it can be tough."
Up next is Friday's championship game against a Firebaugh team Chowchilla beat 59-54 earlier this season.
And a promise finally fulfilled.
"I told (Cargill) we'll get to that game before you're done," Smith said. "Thank God I lived up to that promise."