No matter what the Tigers tried Tuesday night at Cosumnes River College, they could not find their footing against Modesto Christian in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III semifinal.
Third-seeded Patterson showed it planned to stick around by trimming a 15-point second-quarter deficit to three, but miscommunication resulted in 26 turnovers on the night for the Tigers, who fought tooth and nail against the No. 2 Crusaders before succumbing 62-51.
"My girls were ready to play and they proved themselves after the first quarter when their jitters finally calmed themselves down," said Patterson coach Elizabeth Tolleson. "Unfortunately we eventually let the crowd and fans get to us and that made a huge difference and changed the whole dynamics of the game."
The loss ends Patterson's bid to win its first-ever section championship, as it's instead Modesto Christian who will advance to face No. 4 Florin High in the title tilt Friday night at Sacramento's Sleep Train Arena. The Tigers' season is not over, however, as they're a lock to be selected to the Northern California Regional tournament.
In the first quarter, the Tigers (25-5) struggled to keep Modesto Christian (22-8) from dictating the tempo of the game, in particular Tubbs, who finished with a game-high 24 points.
Ten of Tubbs' points came in the opening eight minutes, where Patterson trailed by as many as 15 points before sophomore Danielle Jenkins (12 points) put in a bucket on a pass by senior Mele Tupouata (nine points, five rebounds), making it 21-8 heading into the second quarter.
Tubbs scored the first basket of the second period to push the lead back to 15. But Patterson gave the pockets of well-traveled crimson and gray fans in the bleachers plenty to cheer about, carving into that advantage using a 17-5 run to whittle the deficit to 28-25 with less than two minutes remaining before halftime.
The Crusaders capped the second quarter with a narrow 5-2 advantage, and had a 33-27 lead at the break.
The third quarter was up for grabs, as neither team seemed willing to seize control. Modesto Christian outscored Patterson 9-6, however, and built its lead to nine, at 42-33, at the end of the period on a pair of free throws by Tubbs.
Turnovers proved to the be costly for the Tigers, as Patterson gifted the ball over to Modesto Christian several times in the fourth quarter.
The Crusaders established themselves at the outset of the closing period and helped put the game out of reach with a 9-0 run keyed by five consecutive points during that stretch from Viviana Vasquez (11 points) to take a 51-33 lead with 4:42 left.
Patterson never led and did itself no favors from the free-throw line, hitting just 12-of-23 attempts (52 percent).
"It was a heart-breaking loss for the seniors. They wanted this one badly," Tolleson said. "They came out and proved that, but the stars weren't aligned for us tonight. Thankfully we still have the NorCal tournament in our grasp, and I'm just hoping that we continue to come out and play strong."
Senior Jovanah Arrington scored 11 points, Povai Fesili had eight points, four rebounds and three steals and fellow junior Shealyn Craven added six points and four rebounds for the Tigers, who had their 14-game winning streak snapped by Modesto Christian.
"Patterson basketball has come leaps and bounds over the last three seasons," Tolleson said. "I'm proud of all of my girls for coming out here and playing hard not just tonight but every time they step on the court."
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.