LEMOORE - In the history of California Community College women's basketball, there have only been five undefeated teams. Palomar is trying to make it six. The Comets took a step closure after sinking College of the Sequoias, 88-49, in a quarterfinal game at West Hills-Lemoore College.
This season, Palomar has had only two games where opponents stayed within 10 points. Understandable since the Comets have the state's best defensive unit (allowing 44 points a game) and the state's best offense (86.6 points per game).
Sequoias, champions of the Central Valley Conference, managed to hold its own in the first quarter, but by 7:54 in the second quarter when Camille Sroufe hit a three-pointer, the Giants were looking a 12-point deficit at 26-14. And, it only grew from there, getting to 17 by 7:06; 20 by 4:37, and eventually reaching 23 at halftime.
Palomar's stiffing defense and up-tempo offense overwhelmed Sequoias. The Giants scored just 22 first-half points, their lowest first-half total since scoring 24 in a game against Santa Rosa on December 17.
The Comets forced 12 first-half turnovers and held Sequoias to 32 percent shooting (9 of 28). At times, Palomar put on a shooting demonstration. The Comets were 19 of 38 from the floor and 6 of 16 on three-pointers in the first half. The second half mirrored the second quarter as Palomar dominated in every facet of the game. In the third quarter, Palomar outscored Sequoias 27-9. The Comets made 11 of 20 shots in the period, five of them three-pointers. Palomar also forced seven turnovers, scoring six points off the turnovers. In the fourth quarter, Palomar scored just 18 points as the Comets cleared the bench, giving Sequoias a two-point advantage.
Before tonight, the most points allowed by Sequoias was 72 by Fresno City on January 21. With a 41-point lead going into the final quarter, Palomar was looking at possibly its eighth 100-point game. But the Comets came up short. It isn't known how many 100-point games have taken place in the women's state tournament, but there has been only one team to score 100 points in a final. Los Angeles Harbor broke the century mark in 1985 in a 109-83 win over DeAnza to win the championship. Ironically, the following season, Riverside City became the first program to win the title undefeated.
Palomar's Deajanae Harvey led all scorers with 39 points. Harvey, who has had one triple-double this season, nearly had her second after collecting 10 assists, eight rebounds, and nine steals.
"She's been doing that all season," Leigh Marshall, Palomar head coach, said. "She's unselfish, but really fills the stat line.
Teammates Sroufe added 18 and Teanna Alaman came off the bench to chip in 13. Sequoias was led by Alana Robert and Camila Barreno with 10 points apiece.
With the win, Palomar advances to a semifinal contest against the Butte, the north's top seed and a winner over Cypress, at 7 p.m. The other semifinal game will pit #1 South Orange Coast against #2 North Santa Rosa, at 5 pm. The Comets are looking to play in its first state championship game. Mt. San Antonio, in 2013, was the last program to go undefeated.
(by Robert Schmidt)