After leading most the way, the Petaluma T-Girls were pushed to rally a couple of times in the late going to hold off visiting Analy, 55-44, to move into the finals of the Sonoma County League post-season tournament on Tuesday. The 14th consecutive win by the T-Girls marked the third time that they have gotten past their aggressive rivals from Sebastopol this season.
Analy didn’t make things easy for the T-Girls as it ran off nine unanswered points after trailing at intermission. A full-court, player-to-player press forced four Petaluma turnovers, and a couple to timeout calls by coach Jon Ratshin. It was as close as the Lady Tigers could get until the final period, when they took advantage of mistakes made by Petaluma reserves.
The T-Girls dominated the glass from the outset, and led, 32-17, after two periods. Center Jaden Krist pulled down 11 rebounds in the first two periods while blocking three shots by the quick-triggered Tigers. A couple of 3-point bombs by Kaleigh Pate and another by Kassidy Bacon, coming off the bench, helped Petaluma take a seemingly stress-free lead into the locker room.
Analy spent most of the night quickly challenging the T-Girls defense by hoisting up shots from every angle, but many did not draw iron. The first Tiger to touch the ball past half court was usually the designated shooter. Julie Ambrose, averaging 6.1 points per game, had seven points in the first half.
Ratshin and the T-Girls got a big shot in the arm at the 4-minute mark when Sheriene Arikat came into the game and knocked in 12 points before halftime. Arikat was especially effective around the baseline when she benefitted from strong assists made by Krist and Pate.
The Tigers turned to a zone press in the third stanza, and it worked. Ratshin urged his team to stay composed with each time out, and finally a couple of bank shots by Krist settled things down. Arikat and Angelina Scaccalosi chipped in with shots from distance.
Analy chiseled away at the lead in the final seconds, with seven points coming on turnovers by less experienced T-girl players. A basket by Claire Brown of Analy cut the margin to 50-44.
“Composure,” barked Ratshin as he re-entered his starters, who immediately settled things down.
Arikat led all scorers with 19 points, while Krist played with poise in the paint, and tossed in 10 along with pulling down 14 rebounds.
Ambrose had 14 points for the visiting Tigers.
Petaluma improved to 23-5 for the season after a perfect 12-0 in the SCL. Analy slid to 13-15.
Petaluma will play Sonoma Valley at 6 p.m. on Friday in the Santa Rosa Junior College gym for the tourney title. It will be the final SCL tournament as the league will be reconfigured next season. Sonoma Valley upset Healdsburg, 30-27.
A third win over the same foe is always difficult as Ratshin noted, “It will be a grind-it-out defensive battle.” Petaluma won the last meeting between the two teams, 25-18.