Butte rolls into CCCAA Women's Basketball Championship Semifinals with 72-48 win

(Jon Marley, CCCAA)
(Jon Marley, CCCAA)

Tournament Central

LEMOORE - Butte, the north's top seed, showed fans at the 2023 CCCAA State Championship tournament why it was deserving of the region's top seed. The Roadrunners ran away from Cypress, the south's number four seed, in a quarterfinal match-up at West Hills-Lemoore College, winning 72-48.

Despite Butte, champions of the Golden Valley Conference, having the state's 28th-best defense, Cypress took early control of the contest, finishing the first quarter with a 16-15 lead.

"I think we were a bit nervous with jitters," Tyler Newton, Butte head coach, said.

Butte, however, turned up the pressure in the second half. The Roadrunners held Cypress to six second-quarter points on 6 of 17 shooting from the floor and 0 for 9 on three-pointers, after the Chargers had shot 50 percent from the floor (and 0 for 4 on three-pointers). The lack of an offensive output was rare for Cypress. The Chargers brought the state's 15th-best offensive unit into the tournament with a 70.2 scoring average. The 48 points was Cypress' lowest-scoring output this season.

Especially troublesome was Cypress missing all of its three-pointers after making 30 percent during the regular season. The Chargers finished the game 1 of 17 from the three-point line. This season, Cypress had never made just one in a game.

The elevation of defense allowed Butte to take control. With 6:29 remaining in the second quarter, Butte Sarah Tait made consecutive free throws, giving the Roadrunners their first lead at 19-18. It was a lead the Roadrunners would never give up as Cypress went cold. The Chargers went nearly four minutes without a basket and then followed it up with another dry spell of three minutes. After a layup by Ashley Hawkins got Cypress within two at 24-22, Butte responded with a 7-0 run to close out the half, opening a 31-22 lead.

The third quarter reflected the first quarter as the two teams exchanged baskets and defensive stops. In fact, Cypress was able to hit its first three-pointer of the game when Ashley Hawkins connected with 5:17 remaining in the quarter, pulling the Chargers within nine at 42-33. Unfortunately for Cypress it was unable to cut any deeper into Butte's lead. The Roadrunners took an 11-point lead into the final quarter after outscoring Cypress, 19-17.

Cypress made a run in the fourth quarter, but each were quickly rebuffed by Butte. Three straight baskets by Cypress got the Chargers within seven at 52-45 with 7:26 remaining, but Butte scored 18 straight points to rebuild its lead to 70-45. Cypress, from the Orange Empire Conference and the south's fourth seed, would never score another basket.

The victory moves Butte, which has never won a state championship or even made a championship game, into the semifinals on Saturday against the winner of the Palomar (#2 South) and College of the Sequoias (#3 North).

Butte's Meghan Weinrich led all scorers with 31 points. She also grabbed 17 rebounds as the Roadrunners outrebounded Cypress, 55 to 36. Tait added 12 points and 7 rebounds. The Roadrunners' starters accounted for 40 of their 55 rebounds. Hawkins led Cypress with 27 points. She was one of only four players to score for the Chargers 

"Meghan was the player of the year in the north," Newton said. "She really fills out the stat sheet. And many times, it is in these big moments. She has put us in her backpack. I also thought our depth showed tonight, They came in and gave us good minutes."

(by Robert Schmidt)