Paced by the back court play of guard Lisa Guptil, the Petaluma T-Girls exploded for 19 points in the last stanza to defeat Christopher of Gilroy, 52-43, in the final round of the Ruby Division at the West Coast Jamboree.
Guptil handled the bulk of the late game pressure in the frantic final minutes of the early Monday morning game in the chilly gym atmosphere at Alhambra High in Martinez as she consistently drove around flailing defenders and distributed the ball to waiting teammates. In addition to her three clutch free throws, Guptil dished out a pair of assists in the late going to earn all-tournament honors.
Baskets by Cassie Baddeley, Maddie Mehciz and Sophie Bihn helped Petaluma erase three quarters of lethargic play as the T-Girls trailed 38-31.
Bihn capped a 10-1 run by Petaluma when she drove past the Christopher defenders and banked in a left hander that appeared to take all the energy from the Gilroy club that had led for three periods.
"Lisa triggered us today," said Petaluma coach Doug Johnson. "We had been playing very poorly until the last quarter. I was disappointed that we had to play in the morning game, but the girls finally responded."
Christopher led at halftime, 17-14, and extended its advantage to 11 points before a driving three-point play by Baddeley finally seemed to give the T-Girls some life.
Center Allison Scranton topped the Petaluma scoring with 12 points, and got strong support from Guptil and Bihn with nine points each. Baddeley wound up with eight points.
Petaluma played for sixth game without top point maker Joelle Krist (12.1) who was still suffering from the effects of a head-on collision with Scranton in the Ukiah tournament.
"I'm feeling a little better now, and we are going to contact my doctor early next week to see if I can get cleared to play," said a frustrated Krist. "It's hard to sit and watch."
Petaluma improved to 7-5 for the season with the come-from-behind win heading into Sonoma County League play.
Christopher fell to 4-5 for the year. The Lady Cougars finished in second place in the Monterey Bay League last season.
Enoch of Modesto won the Ruby championship later in the day with a 51-victory over Granada.
Paradise 45, Petaluma 44
Petaluma allowed Paradise to hang around long enough to eventually lose a game-long lead, and the T-Girls fell in heartbreaking fashion, 45-44, in the tournament's second round. Paradise grabbed only one other lead in the close game, but Guptil answered with a clutch 3-pointer before the final sequence.
Paradise had two chances to go ahead, but a wild shot fell into the hands of Scranton, who cleared the ball with less than 30 seconds remaining. An ill-advised pass in the T-Girl back court was pilfered to set up one more opportunity with Petaluma leading 44-43.
Following a time out, the ball was passed to the right side, and a shot by high-scoring Cassidy Burnett rattled in off the glass with very little time remaining for Petaluma to respond.