Online Exclusive: Los Banos girls seize playoff spot

Brianna Harden and Los Banos High won’t have to worry about the Sac-Joaquin Section power ratings any more – the Tigers clinched their playoff berth Tuesday night.

Harden blocked six shots and helped contain Central Valley’s inside game while leading Los Banos to a 39-32 victory, clinching at least a share of the Western Athletic Conference championship. The section guarantees league champs at least an out-bracket game if they fail to finish among the top 16 seeds in their division.

LB (17-10, 8-2) has finished its regular season and is half-game ahead of CV (14-7, 7-2), which plays crosstown rival Ceres (4-14, 2-7) tonight. If CV wins, they earn a share of the title and will make the field of 16 – but a loss could eliminate it from the playoffs. LB was seeded No. 19 and CV was No. 13 prior to their meeting.

Ieashia Isby led the Tigers with 11 points, while Harden and Priscilla Gutierrez held CV centers Brittany Martinez and Geena Wade to a combined six points.

Valley Oak League

There won’t be any last-night suspense in the VOL, as Manteca’s victory over Sierra and East Union’s overtime loss to Weston Ranch clinched the outright crown for the Buffaloes. The Buffs (21-3, 12-1) host EU (18-6, 10-3) in tonight’s finale, while The Ranch (16-8, 10-3) hosts Sierra (15-10, 7-6).

Manteca, East Union and The Ranch have clinched playoff berths, and Sonora (14-11, 8-5) also clinched a berth by beating Kimball. This is what’s at stake tonight: Manteca can secure a No. 5 seed with a win, EU and The Ranch must win to guarantee themselves home openers and Sierra might miss the playoffs if it loses to The Ranch.

WESTON RANCH 68, EAST UNION 64 (OT), at Manteca – EU’s Morgan Hulsebosch (13 points) hit a baseline trey with 2 seconds in regulation to force overtime, but the Cougars bounced back and never trailed in the four-minute OT period. Timnesha Wilson (28 points) and Emoni Wilson (15) combined for nine of The Ranch’s 10 points in overtime.

Briona Fontenot scored 23 for EU, which trailed 47-43 after three quarters. EU was hurt by the loss of Lexy Posz (10 points) and Salina Tiscareno to fouls late in the game.

SONORA 69, KIMBALL 27, at Tracy – Senior guard Kelli Keefe made sure the Wildcats (14-11, 8-5) wouldn’t miss the playoffs in her final season, pouring in 24 points to beat the Jaguars (1-25, 1-12). The Cats were seeded No. 15, but jumped ahead of Sierra with the win and finishes the season tonight at Oakdale (7-15, 2-11).

Modesto Metro Conference

MODESTO 72, DOWNEY 31, at Downey – The Panthers (18-6, 9-0) clinched at least a share of their third consecutive crown by running past the Knights (0-10, 3-20), as Madisyn Gafford scored a career-high 27 points and Rey Berry added 13. The Panthers, who led 40-21 at halftime, host Davis (16-9, 8-1) tonight with an opportunity to win the outright title.

Point guard Felicia Lee Cardenas (11 points) and Andreinna Castaneda (10) provided plenty of firepower for Modesto, which can clinch a home opener by beating Davis.

ENOCHS 56, JOHANSEN 44, at Johansen – The Eagles (13-12, 5-5) finished their season with a victory over the Vikings (9-17, 2-7), but will look back with regret to the 20-point loss it suffered to Beyer last week. That loss will likely keep the Eagles out of the playoffs, as they’re on the bubble without the opportunity to move themselves up in the power ratings.

Trans-Valley League

MODESTO CHRISTIAN 104, HUGHSON 20, at Hughson – The Crusaders (18-7, 11-0), tuning up for what they hope will be a lengthy playoff run, scored 60 first-half points on the way to hitting triple digits for the second time this season.

Danielle Thompson (22 points), Charise Holloway (19) and Alexus Tillman (19) led the Crusaders, while Vanessa Cagle (11) and Taylor Cuthbertson (10) rounded out the attack.

Central California Conference

The stage is set for tonight’s showdown between crosstown rivals Turlock (20-5, 13-1) and Pitman (10-6, 12-2), with the championship at stake. Turlock has clinched at least a share of the title, while the Pride must win to earn a piece of the title, and Turlock is 2-0 vs. Pitman.

TURLOCK 60, GOLDEN VALLEY 21, at Merced – The Bulldogs, No. 3 in the D1 power ratings, have no choice but to keep winning if they want to stay ahead of fourth-seeded Armijo. That’s crucial, because falling to No. 4 would put Turlock in the same bracket with top-seeded St. Francis. Kayla Schumann (14 points) and Nicole Serpa (13) helped Turlock outscore GV 23-0 in the first quarter.

MERCED 45, ATWATER 42, at Merced -- Brittany Lee fired a 3-pointer from the corner with 48 seconds left to lift the Bears (19-8, 9-5) over the Falcons (11-15, 5-9) and into the D1 playoffs. The Bears face crosstown rival Golden Valley (4-23, 0-14) tonight, and a win combined with a Davis loss to Modesto could bump the Bears up to No.13.

The Bears had to fight through an awful shooting night, hitting just 16 of 72 shots for a dismal 22 percent shooting percentage. Atwater had its own problems, including 34 turnovers and making just four of 17 free throws.

Central California Athletic Assoc.

BIG VALLEY 47, STONE RIDGE 23, at Merced –Haley Cline (12) and Brittney Miller (10) led the Lions (13-12, 6-5) to victory, keeping alive their playoffs hopes in D5. Big Valley is a huge underdog to Brookside Christian (21-5) Friday, but Tuesday’s win shou;d be e nough to keep the Lions in the top 16.

Bee news services contributed to this report