Casa Grande played well enough to compete on a high level against every rugged opponent in three games in the Gold bracket of the West Coast Jamboree, but the Lady Gauchos lost heartbreakers in each outing played at Valley Christian in Dublin.
On Saturday, Casa dropped a 47-43 decision to Amador Valley of Pleasanton.
Perennial Sacramento-based powers McNair and Florin battled for the Gold championship, with the undefeated Lady Eagles from NcNair (13-0) edging Florin 57-54.
If anything positive comes from the trio of close defeats. the results could be character builders and severely test the resolve of Casa as the team regroups to play in their first season in the North Bay League after New Year's day. After beginning NBL play on Wednesday at home against Maria Carrillo, the Gauchos travel to Cardinal Newman on Friday night.
In their final game of the Jamboree, Casa Grande (6-6) gave up 10 unanswered points to start the final period and lost to a suddenly productive Amador Valley, 47-43. Casa led, 35-28, at the end of the third stanza, but a furious Lady Don rally fueled by senior guard Alysse Ketner helped overtake Casa at the finish.
Baskets by Algela Llaverias, Lyndsey Murnin and a 3-point shot by Brooke Santander could not hold off the charging Dons.
Ketner proved to be quicker than any player on the floor, and she beat the retreating Gauchos down the floor consistently in the final period with a game changing eight points. Ketner finished with a game-high 16 points, followed by 6-foot center Courtney Seams, who scored all of her 11 points in the second half
Murnin paced the Gaucho offense with 11 points, with help from Santander, who added nine. Llavarias tallied seven and pulled down seven rebounds, but Casa was forced to rely on a perimeter offense most of the way with very little production underneath.
Reserve guard Sara Langdon ended the first half for the Gauchos with a 3-pointer from near mid-court.
Defense almost made the difference for Casa Grande in the Friday afternoon game against Foothill of Pleasanton. but the Lady Gauchos lost 48-43 in overtime after leading most of the way.
With a three point lead and only five seconds left on the clock, Casa failed to close out on hot shooting Emily Barrett, who buried an uncontested shot from well behind the arc to send the game into an extra period.
An aggressive match-up zone defense by the Gauchos limited Foothill to many forced shots and only five points in the first quarter. On many sets, the confused Eagles ran a motion offense usually designed for man defenses.
The major problem for the Gauchos was that they could not convert on the other end until less than three minutes remained when Murnin fed a good entry bounce pass to a cutting Santander.
Both teams attacked on the defensive end of the floor, and it got rough in the first quarter when Casa's leading scorer Murnin was wrestled to the floor in a wild battle for a loose ball.
Undaunted, coach Dan Sack made no excuses and rated the competition in the Gold Bracket as top notch. "All of the teams in our bracket have winning records and rated above us in early season ratings," he said. "The aggressive style of play at this level is good for us."