Patterson High’s girls basketball team threatened to do the unthinkable Saturday, March 15, in Redding—beat the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals of the NorCal Playoffs.
Patterson’s own eight seeded squad held a brief two point lead in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, 33-31, before the host Enterprise Hornets erupted with a 22 point blitz to eventually defeat the Tigers 53-43.
The lady Tigers fell behind 12-2 early when turnovers and missed shots were the norm. Following their second timeout at the halfway mark of the opening stanza, senior point guard Jovanah Arrington hit a pair of treys as the defense tightened up to hold the Hornets scoreless for the next four minutes. The score was 12-8 by the end of the first quarter.
Junior Shealyn Craven opened the second period with a quick trey to pull her team to within one. The Tigers took their first lead of the game, 13-12, shortly thereafter thanks to a pair of free throws by senior forward Kiara Job. Both teams continued tough defensive play the rest of the quarter as the first half ended with Patterson clinging to a slim 18-16 lead.
The large Patterson crowd was buzzing as Craven opened the third period with her second three pointer and Senior Dayna Hansen quickly followed with a midrange jumper.
The Tigers held a seven point advantage, 23-16, and were beginning to look unbeatable after outscoring their hosts 15-4 over the previous 10 minutes of play.
The Hornets stung back. After the short show defeat, they began to play like No. 1 seed and perennial powerhouse they are, fighting back to knot the score at 31 by the end of the quarter.
After the Tigers briefly took the lead to open the final period the two teams exchanged baskets before the home team Hornets found the range from beyond the three point arc and canned three consecutive treys to claim a 43-48 advantage with three minutes of play.
Craven answered with her third three pointer of the day, but Enterprise countered with yet another bomb to keep the visitors at arm’s length.
Although the Tigers were down, they were not out. Super sophomore Danielle Jenkins kept the Tigers hopes alive with a pair of short buckets before the Hornets swished five of seven free throws down the stretch to seal the win and advance to the semi-finals against fourth seeded Florin of Sacramento.
Arrington led the Tigers in scoring with 11 points, followed by Craven with 9 and Jenkins with 8. Job and Mele Tupouata shared team high honors with five rebounds apiece. Povai Fesili came off the bench to pick up four steals and contribute five points.
There were few dry eyes in the Patterson locker room following the loss. The tears were not all necessarily due to the loss, but as much as from the realization that this was to be the last time this group of players would ever take the court together.
This is now the team by which all future teams will be measured. They are believed to be the first PHS basketball team, boys or girls, to post consecutive undefeated league records going 12-0 in the WAC the past two seasons. These Tigers are also the first girls team (matching the 1995-96 boys) to reach the quarterfinals of the NorCal playoffs. To top it off, they are the first girls team to average over 60 points per game.
Patterson, like all high school programs, must reload next season after losing several key seniors from this year’s team. Gone will be four year varsity players Arrington, Hansen and Job. Tupouata joined the team as a sophomore and quickly established herself as premier rebounder and scorer. Janae Jackson was the last senior to join the squad, transferring from St. Mary’s of Stockton. Some may choose to play basketball at the next level, some may not, but all have the ability to continue their career if they so wish.
According to coach Elizabeth Tolleson, Modesto Junior College would love to take any or all of them.
Junior guard Povai Fesili is poised to fill the very big shoes of Arrington, the team’s top scorer this season as well as their assist leader.
Craven, a three year varsity starter, will return along with all the PHS three point shooting records she holds. This diminutives shooter can also claim the team scoring lead for two of the past three seasons.
Junior Ari Cashen will be counted on to continue dominating the boards and inside scoring region. This talented forward/center pulled down over 200 rebounds and scored over 150 points coming off the bench this past season.
Sophomore Danielle Jenkins is poised to have a breakout season next year. She impressed everyone while scoring 195 points and grabbing 150 boards as the first or second player off the bench.
Junior back up guards Tiana Barron and Jordynn Scheuller each had important roles backing up the guards this season and will be counted on next season to provide defense, scoring and senior leadership as the Tigers try to continue their quest to become one of the elite programs in the region.
Coach Tolleson took over the reins at PHS four years ago following a six year stint as assistant coach at MJC. Her teams have improved each season and have posted an astonishing 50-9 record over the past two seasons, including a three year unbeaten streak at home. Included in her pedigree is a four year varsity career at Patterson High, which culminated in a trip to the Section Finals at Arco Arena. The talented guard still holds the single season record for assists at PHS with 181 dishes.