At the end of last season, Hercules caught the Petaluma T-Girls with a furious rally in the final period to win a first-round girls North Coast Section playoff game. Energetic Lady Titan coach Daniel Guy was caught up in the moment and remarked at the time, "We will have to do this again next season."
The two teams met again with many of the same cast of characters present on the same floor Saturday, and this time the T-Girls grimly hung on for an exciting 59-55 win. Stay tuned at the end of the season for a possible game three of a well-played trilogy.
Neither team disappointed a holiday crowd of well wishers after a T-Girl floor entry wearing festive Santa hats. The game was close and up tempo that could have gone either way. Led by determined senior guard Lisa Guptil and center Allison Scranton, the T-Girls finally got to the finish line first, but it was never comfortable.
Guptil had her best all-around contest by continually beating the Hercules press to set up a very quick-paced T-Girls offensive attack. Several times she got around the fist line of pressure defenders to get Petaluma into a comfortable quick passing game. In addition, she canned two 3-point shots to help the T-Girls hold a narrow 27-25 advantage at halftime.
"I had a hard time getting over the game last year, and it meant a lot to win this time," she said, "I shot a lot more than usual, and some outside shots went in. Coach has been working with me almost every day to mix it up, but I am left handed and went in that direction tonight. I can go right, too."
Guptil finished with 12 points.
The athletic Titan team had no answer for Petaluma center Allison Scranton, who turned in another solid performance with a team high 16 points and 20 rebounds. After another slow start, Scranton worked for good position underneath the basketball and she battled to score on high entry passes and a couple of put back shots. They were well earned.
The usually reliable Scranton missed her first four foul shots, but bounced back to score 12 points down the stretch. Her final two charity tosses iced the game for Petaluma.
An acrobatic lay-up by guard Gena Teagarden was very critical in the final stanza, and she converted a free throw for an old-fashioned three-point play after climbing off the deck in the final minutes. Teagarden added 10 points for Petaluma.
The Titans would never go away, as they stayed close with an assortment of shots around the baseline. Etiene Ekanem scored in every stanza to lead both teams in scoring with 19 points. Sophomore floor leader Alyssa Rodriguez added 11 points and five assists for the Titans, who fell to 7-6 for the season after a difficult pre-league.