Le Grand 45, Millennium 43
A fourth-quarter comeback fell short for the Millennium girls in their 45-43 loss to Le Grand High in the quarterfinals of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 5 girls basketball playoffs.
The Le Grand Bulldogs (17-11, 8-4 Southern Athletic League) led for the entire game Thursday at Tracy High. After the Bulldogs took a 15-9 first-quarter lead, scoring on five 3-point shots, the Falcons threatened to catch up a few times, but they were also down by as much as 15 points early in the third quarter.
The Falcons started to outscore the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, and they took the initiative with less than a minute left as junior Kaleena Orlanes sank a 3-point shot and freshman Zehnna Ndeithi also scored to cut Le Grand’s lead to 43-42.
The final half-minute was a high-energy competition for possession, with both teams drawing fouls and getting additional chances to score from the free-throw line. The Bulldogs scored a couple of free throws, and Millennium freshman Giovanna Chukwuma also scored one from the line but missed her second shot. Le Grand got the rebound, and Orlanes promptly grabbed the ball away to give Millennium two more scoring chances in the closing seconds, though both shots bounced off the rim.
“I’m really glad that our team didn’t give up,” Chukwuma said. “Once people start playing as hard as they can, the whole team feels that from that person and then we pick up.”
She added that it was still a good finish for her team, which ended the season with a league title and a record of 14-10, 7-1 in the Central California Athletic Alliance.
“I’m really glad how we ended the quarter,” she said. “We still made it to the playoffs. We still earned our title, higher than we’ve ever been before, and I’m really proud of our team.”
Ndeithi added that her team, which had no seniors this year and could bring back all its players for next year, continued to improve all season and then showed the ability to finish strong at the end.
“We just played as a team, and I think that’s what made us come back,” she said. “The journey has been hard. We lost a lot of players to injuries, but we came back and that’s all that matters.
“I’m looking forward to next season and us playing as a team, the benefits we have now that we didn’t see before, and how everything came together. I feel like we got a lot of people’s inner talents and what they really do best.”
Chukwuma was the Falcons’ scoring leader with a game-high 14 points, and she had 10 rebounds, three steals and two blocked shots. Orlanes scored 12 points and had 10 rebounds.
Vanden 61, Kimball 40
The Jaguars started with an early lead over the Vanden Vikings in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 girls basketball quarterfinal game on Thursday in Fairfield, but then the Vikings started hitting 3-point shots, which eventually put them up 35-19 at the half.
The Jaguars picked up the pace on offense in the third quarter before the Vikings (26-4, 10-0 Monticello Empire League) took control again. They outscored the Jaguars for the rest of the second half on the way to a 61-40 win.
Junior Isabelle Lacap led the Kimball offense with 10 points, sophomore Arianna Rodriguez scored 9 points and grabbed seven rebounds, and freshman Cayia Sims added 8 points.