LEMOORE - Butte College coach Tyler Newton and Orange Coast coach Sammy Doucette were both hired with the directive to rebuild their respective programs.
For Orange Coast, the job is complete after the Pirates won the 2023 CCCAA Women's Basketball Championship tournament with a 78-71 victory over Butte, in the two college's first-ever meeting.
The best thing about firsts is that they are memorable, even in defeat. For Butte, the championship appearance was the first in its history. Under Newton, who took over in 2017, the Roadrunners have now appeared in the Sweet 16, Elite Eight, and the championship game in the last three years. After a conference sixth-place finish in his first season, Newton has coached the Butte program to three straight conference titles.
For Doucette, who is in her fourth season, the journey is complete. The championship is Orange Coast's 97th athletic title, two coming in women's basketball. Orange Coast won its first women's basketball title in 2003 under Hall of Fame coach Mike Thornton.
Meghan McIntyre scored a game-high 32 points to lead Butte while Annie Trinh and Gabby Samiy each had 14. Karina Cabrera added 11 points. Meghan Weinrich paced the Roadrunners with 21 points, Sanaya Scrader posted a double-double with 18 points and 10 boards, and Sarah Tait pitched in with 15 points.
Orange Coast was nearly perfect this season, finishing 32-1, while Butte posted an impressive 28-4 mark. For the Pirates, it was a season in which they overcame challenges to rise to the state title.
"We had to learn to play without Karina Cabrera for three games this season when she had the flu," said Doucette. "The team learned to play together and that was huge for us."
Early on, both teams established their teams' offensive game plans. Butte was confident in pounding the Pirates inside the key. Meanwhile, Orange Coast took its game to the perimeter. Orange Coast was 10 for 27 on three-pointers, finishing 23 of 55 overall from the field (42 percent). Butte scored 42 of its 71 points in the paint.
Orange Coast scored the first six points of the game and never trailed as the Pirates took a 24-20 first-quarter lead. Butte, however, never flinched. The Roadrunners, champions of the Golden Valley Conference, outscored Orange Coast, 18-15, in the second period, settling for a 39-38 lead.
Orange Coast, champions of the Orange Empire Conference, shot 48 percent (14 of 29) in the first half, making 5 of 14 three-pointers. The Pirates' McIntyre, the co-player of the year in the conference and an all-state selection, scored 13 first-half points and grabbed five rebounds.
Butte was just as effective offensively as the Pirates. The Roadrunners made 14 of 32 shots (43.8), scoring 24 of its points in the paint. The Roadrunners also used their size advantage to outrebound Orange Coast, 19-14, with nine of them being on the offensive end. Butte managed nine second-chance points. Meghan Weinrich, a 5-10 forward, led Butte with 11 points and five rebounds in the first half.
Butte continued to pound the ball inside the third quarter. Sanaya Shrader's layup just seconds into the third quarter gave Butte its first lead at 40-39. With 5:51 left, McIntyre tied the game with a free throw, making 42-42. The Pirates would go on to score 13 of the next 21 points, taking a 55-50 lead into the fourth quarter.
In the final period, Orange Coast maintained its lead, but Butte kept the pressure on, pulling within two at 72-70 with 2:14 left. With 1:04 left, Tait committed her fifth foul as the shot clock was within a second of expiring. Orange Coast's Cabrera made both free throws for a four-point lead. On Butte's ensuing possession, Samiy was fouled under the basket. She made one of two, cutting Orange Coast's lead to 74-71 with 48.6 seconds remaining.
On Orange Coast's next possession, the Pirates played keep away as Butte tried to trap the Pirates. Eventually, McIntyre, the tournament's MVP, drove to the basket and got a driving layup to fall. Butte's Madalynn Basset raced down the floor and attempted a deep three-pointer with just over 7.5 seconds remaining, but the shot fell short.
Butte fouled McIntyre on the inbounds play. She stepped to the line, sinking both free throws to seal the win.
All-Tournament Team: Meghan McIntyre (Orange Coast), Annie Trinh (Orange Coast), gabby Samiy (Orange Coast), Lucca Lowenberg (Santa Rosa), Meghan Weinrich (Butte), Sarah Tait (Butte).
(Robert Schmidt, CCCSIA)