The No. 3 Tigers held the No. 15 Benicia High Panthers to just nine points in the first half and 16 points through three quarters en route to a 64-21 victory Tuesday, Feb. 25 at Patterson High School.
"My girls were ready to play from the get-go," said Patterson coach Elizabeth Tolleson. "We had a great practice and we did everything we could to make sure that we would execute well. We came out and played hard."
The Tigers (24-4) advance to Thursday's second round, where they will host No. 6 Weston Ranch of Stockton (19-8) for a 7 p.m. game.
Senior Jovanah Arrington powered the offense and flashed her all-around talent for Patterson, scoring a game-high 17 points, while adding six rebounds, five steals and five assists. Classmate Mele Tupouata controlled the glass for the Tigers, finishing with 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. And junior Povai Fesili provided a spark off the bench, logging 11 points, four rebounds and three assists.
Arrington asserted herself against Benicia (9-13) from the opening tip on Tuesday night, scoring 14 of her 17 points in a blistering first half on the Tigers' home floor. It was that first half performance that knocked the Panthers on their heels, and struck doubt into their hearts.
"We knew that we had to come out hard so we did that," Arrington said. "We knew that we weren't getting any competition from our league so at practice we pushed each other to the limit so that when this game came we were ready."
When Patterson puts forth maximum effort, it's a scary site for opponents that is essentially impossible to stop. In this one, the Tigers scored 26 of the game's first 30 points, and were active on the defensive end at the same time, creating steals that led to run-outs in transition.
It was really no different than what we've seen from Patterson since the 12 contests before the D-III playoffs, where the local squad clearly stepped up its game with an unbeaten regular season charge.
Local hoops fans showed up to provide a great home-court atmosphere in the Patterson High gymnasium, Tolleson said.
"Being in your home gym with all of your fans supporting you is a completely different atmosphere from having to travel," Tolleson said. "Knowing that we had a packed house tonight, we had all the confidence."
On Tuesday, the first quarter was meant to make a statement.
Arrington opened the game with a three-pointer, and Patterson pestered Benicia with a swarming pressure defense, forcing turnovers and creating opportunities for easy points in transition.
Overall the Tigers shot 53 percent (9-of-17) in the first period, and the game essentially was over by the end of the opening eight minutes. The lead was 40 (49-9) by the conclusion of the half.
If there ever was any hope for Benicia of getting back into the game, Patterson repeatedly squashed it. The Tigers' hit 6-of-9 first-half three-pointers and held the visitors to just two field goals in the opening two quarters.
"Everything that we had planned from our scouting, from watching the film (on Benicia) was executed. We played with heart," Fesili said. "Our second string is there to back up our first string. We're there for them. We're there to help them finish strong."
After a dominating effort in league play, Patterson coaches preached to the players not to overlook the Panthers in the days leading up the game, something Tolleson admitted is sometimes easier said than done. But the message got through in the end, as the Tigers never allowed Benicia to snatch the momentum needed for an upset.
Junior varsity callups Brandy Brown, Kajeane Davis, Esther Ekueme, Emma Hansen and Jadan Rodriguez all saw the court for Patterson, as the mercy rule went into effect and the running clock started in the fourth quarter.
Junior Shealyn Craven (3-of-4) recorded eight points, including 2-of-3 from three-point range, and Patterson claimed its 20th win in 21 games.
The Tigers got six points, five rebounds and four steals from senior Dayna Hansen, and sophomore Danielle Jenkins had six points and two assists.
"(For the seniors) its our last year so we want to go as far as possible," Arrington said. "We're going to compete our hardest no matter who we're playing because we never know when our last game will be."
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.