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Tech girls fall in first round of NorCal basketball playoffs

on March 8, 2012

The Oakland Tech girls basketball team couldn’t pull through on Wednesday night, losing 52-46 to visiting Heritage High School of Brentwood in the first round of the Northern California playoffs. The loss ended Tech’s season and eliminates the Lady Bulldogs from the state tournament.

“I’m devastated,” said Valerie Hartsfield, head coach for the Lady Bulldogs, as she shifted her feet and shook her head after the game. “This is my third year coaching, and we’ve always gone at least two games away from the state tournament.”

The game was a tale of two halves.

Tech came out during the first quarter full of energy.  Heritage scored right as the game started, after the tip-off, Erin Asher of Heritage got the ball and scored.  But Tech freshman Da’Ja’nay Powell quickly answered, putting up two points of her own, leaving the score 2-2 during the first few seconds of the game.

With 3:30 left in the first quarter, Tech lead 11-4, and then scored six unanswered points to put them up 17-4 with 17 seconds left in the quarter. Ali Ramirez of Heritage scored to close the quarter, but Tech still led by double-digits after the first quarter.

Heritage began its comeback in the second quarter. The Bulldogs were only able to score eight points, while Heritage scored 17 points to cut into Tech’s lead, and the half ended with Tech leading by a only three points, 25-22.

During the third quarter, it became clear the teams were even and it was going to be close till the end, as Tech and Heritage went back and fourth, trading baskets, and  both teams lead during the third quarter.  But, Kiah Knox of Heritage hit a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer, giving her team a 35-33 lead over Tech heading into the final period.

Tech looked like it may hold on to win early in the fourth period. Kalea Pickeral- Dennis was fouled early in the quarter and sent to the free throw line.  She made both free throws, putting the Bulldogs up 37-35.  Tech had its last lead at 39-37., but that didn’t last long, as Heritage scored eight unanswered points.  Tech went on a 5-0 run with 3:25 left., but Heritage quickly responded and led 48-44. Tech wouldn’t catch up, and Heritage took home the win.

Junior London Robinson led the Bulldogs with 12 points., and freshman Da’Ja’nay Powell followed with 11 points.  For Heritage, Jasemyn Arsenault led the team with 15 points. Sabrina Engelstad and Kiah Knox followed with 10 a piece.

“I’m at a loss for words,”  Hartsfield said after the game.  “It broke down in the third quarter.  The defense just broke down. I was sure they [Tech] were going to push through, but once Heritage started shooting 3s, they [lost their whole momentum.”

Although the Tech players were disappointed with the loss, the young team is looking forward to next season.

“We’ll be back next year even better than before,” Robinson said.  “Our whole team is basically freshmen and they have a lot of growing to do.”

That idea resonated with Coach Hartsfield.

“Whatever they put into basketball in the offseason is what they’ll get out next season,” Hartsfield said.  “We have the perfect age—14.  If we get in the weight room and get out on the beach and run, we’ll be great.”

As the girls headed home, they still kept one thing in mind—they’re still Oakland Athletic League champions.

“We tried our best, but we just kept our heads up because no matter what, we’re still champions,” Powell said.

Heritage will advance to the second round of the NorCal playoffs and will take on Oak Ridge on Saturday.


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