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Girls’ basketball sport shorts, 2007-08

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL SPORTS SHORTS, 2007-08–
(Latest girls’ basketball shorts will be at the top of the section. Scroll down to check out past results. Tournament games do not count toward win/loss record. Visit the Sports Section for girls’ basketball features)

For the 2007-08 schedule or standings and stats, click on Maxpreps.com. The Eagles finished the season at 27-7 overall, and 8-0 in the Southwest Sierra League.

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL, 2007-08

[SEASON END]

EAGLES PLAYOFF HOPES DASHED IN 48-42 ROAD LOSS TO SIERRA CANYON–March 4
Unwilling to let their historic season come to an end without a fight, the Eagles hung tough until the end, but eventually fell to Sierra Canyon, 48-42, March. 4.

Junior point guard Larissa Hensley scored a game-high 16 points, and her running mate, junior Candace Gandolfo, added 9 for FC, but it would not be enough to beat the surging Trailblazers.

Trailing 15-7, with 2 minutes remaining in the 2nd, the Eagles went on an 11-0 run to finish the quarter, to steal an 18-15 advantage at the half.

The two teams proceeded to go back and forth for the majority of the second half, with neither able to pull away from the other.

With under a minute left, and Sierra Canyon holding a slim 1-point lead, the Blazers hit a deep 3-pointer to extend their lead to 4.

In crunch time of close games teams often look to their seniors to make the big play, and Melanie Nachtigal did just that for FC. After driving strong to the hoop and missing, Nachtigal collected her own rebound, and scored a layup to pull the Eagles within 2 of the lead.

But with time running out, FC was forced to foul, and put the Blazers on the line, where they made 4-4 free-throws, to close out the game. Validating their 23-5 record, Sierra Canyon shot 9-14 from the free-throw line in the critical 4rth quarter.

“The refs made some pretty bad calls in the game, but we can’t blame our loss on them,” Hensley said. “Coach Tosland always tells us to control what we can control, and unfortunately we couldn’t control what calls the refs made.”

The future is bright for the Eagles however, as they only lose 2 seniors to graduation, and have an upcoming 8th grade class, that has a chance to win the city championship this year, to help ensure continued success.

The Eagles finished the season at 27-7, and won the Southwest Sierra League with an undefeated record of 8-0.

“I think the season was a success,” junior guard Emily Krieghoff said. “We went undefeated in league, and became the first team in 20 years to do that. And we went to Valley which was our goal even though we didn’t win, it was a great experience. I’m looking forward to next year; it should be a lot of fun.”

EAGLES COME UP JUST SHORT AT SELLAND; FALL TO MISSION PREP 47-43–Feb. 29
Even with over 1/2 of the FC student body yelling, cheering, and going crazy, Mission Prep stepped up to claim a state record 16th straight Central Section Division V championship, 47-43, at Selland Arena, Feb. 29.

The loss was FC’s first since Jan. 5, when they fell to Mission Prep, 47-32. The Royals of San Luis Obispo, who have yet to lose in ’08, claimed their 14th straight victory this season, and denied the Eagles their 15th straight.

“We just let one slip away, ” Tosland said. “Free-throw shooting was an issue, but I don’t think that was the reason we lost. We made some costly mistakes, and they took advantage.”

FC was led by junior guard Candace Gandolfo with 12 points, point guard Larissa Hensley with 10 points and 12 rebounds, and sophomore center Paige Maltos pounded Mission Prep inside, scoring 10 and grabbing 11 rebounds.

The Royals rallied behind senior forward Erica Vesnaver who scored a game-high 17 points, and four-year varsity point guard Leigh Yetter, who finished with 6 points and 8 rebounds. Mission Prep won despite blowing two 10-point leads. While the Eagles were effective on defense against the Royals’ top player, Yetter, who averages 15.5 points per game, could not box her off the offensive boards.

Yetter and her teammates hurt the Eagles on the offensive boards, out-rebounding FC, and gaining many 2nd chance opportunities.

Though the Eagles held an early 9-4 lead, the Royals out-rebounded FC, to take a 23-11 lead, early in the second quarter. Mission Prep also held FC to only 2 points during a 4 minute stretch from the end of the 1st quarter to the beginning of the 2nd.

However, a key block by Maltos ignited a 13-0 Eagle run, capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by junior guard Candace Gandolfo, that put FC up, 24-23, at the halfway mark.

Though they let FC back into the game, the Royals showed why they own 16 straight championships dating back to ’93, by aggressively hitting the offensive and defensive boards, and playing more physical than the Eagles.

Whether it was the huge arena, the unfamiliar rims, or the pressure of the championship game, FC simply did not make free-throws, going 6-25 from the line. Tosland cited poor free-throw shooting as a major problem for the Eagles.

“We hit half of those (shots), and we win,” Tosland told a Fresno Bee reporter. “We got to the line, and just didn’t finish it.”

Behind, 37-35, to start the 4th quarter, the Eagles missed 9 straight free-throws as Mission Prep built a 10 point lead.

“Our free-throws just didn’t fall, and it was disappointing, because we are usually good at them,” sophomore forward Tatiana Fontes said. “I think the pressure got to us, but we still have a chance to go to valley.”

The Royals also struggled from the charity stripe, but junior forward Paige Czarnecki made two when it counted with 26.5 seconds left that put them up by 4-effectively icing the game.

The Eagles’ last hope died when first senior forward Melanie Natchigall’s, then Gandolfo’s 3-pointers bounced off the rim in the final 10 seconds of regulation.

“We fought hard the whole time, and played a great game,” Gandolfo said. “We got on a run, but it came alittle too late. It was hard to loose such a close game, but it will make us stronger for our next match-up with them in the Southern Section Finals.”

Even after the heartbreaking loss, junior guard Emily Kreighoff remained positive.

“I think we can compete with teams in the state playoffs,” Kreighoff said. “If we just play our game, and don’t play down, I think we have the chance to go all the way. We need to just stay focused on the game in front of us. Our team has speed and height, we just need to use it the right way.”

After the contest, Hensley and Mission Prep’s Vesnaver received the Safe and Healthy Kids Fighting Spirit Award for a well-played game.

The Eagles will advance to the Southern California Playoffs. They will travel to Chatsworth, CA, to play Sierra Canyon, March 4, 7 P.M.

“We don’t know anything about Sierra Canyon,” Tosland said. “I think they have two or three really good players, but we are pretty much in the dark as to how well they play.

EAGLES COMMAND RESPECT AFTER 66-51 WIN OVER NO. 3 BAKERSFIELD CHRISTIAN–Feb. 27
The stands erupted with applause, the student section rushed the court, and the band burst alive, as the final seconds ticked away in the Eagles’ 66-51 victory over visiting No. 3 Bakersfield Christian, Feb. 27.

With the win, FC not only earned the right to challenge the defending Division V champion Mission Prep Royals, at Selland Arena, Feb. 29, but also canceled afternoon classes on Friday.

“I am both excited and nervous, but more excited because we get a chance for a rematch against Mission,” starting junior point guard Larissa Hensley said. “I don’t know what the outcome will be, but I know that no matter what, we will try our hardest, and play our game.”

In preparation for the game, head coach Josh Tosland put together a team comprised of coaches and boys’ basketball players to pose as Bakersfield Christian players.

“Earlier this week, the girls practiced against coaches and some boys’ basketball players,” Tosland said. “The coaches won on Monday, but lost two games to the girls on Tuesday. They didn’t get rattled by our physical play and kept playing tough.”

The Eagles out ran the visiting Eagles from the get-go, as Hensley pushed the ball up the floor, and either passed to an open teammate or finished herself.

“It seemed as though we controlled the game from the beginning,” Tosland said. “Every time they would try and make a run, one of our girls would go down and score immediately and take away their momentum.”

FC held a huge 33-17 lead at the half as they shut their opponents down on the defensive end.

The Eagles were led by Hensley’s 18 points, 6 rebounds, 7 steals, and 5 assists. Sophomore center Paige Maltos, who scored 17 points, and pulled down 8 rebounds, dominated the paint, mostly from offensive rebounds and put-backs.

“Paige was great tonight,” Tosland said. “She played strong and showed that she can be a force to watch out for. What is scary, is that she is only a sophomore! Great job for her.”

While Maltos did not play much in last year’s Division V finals, she was ecstatic to meet the Royals on Friday.

“We’re going to Selland,” Maltos screamed, as she and her equally excited sister, Carly Martinez, hugged each other, jumping up and down.

“I was able to score so high tonight because my teammates worked the ball into me the whole game,” Maltos said. “I am so excited that we get to play the Royals again. This season has just been so exciting.”

In the final home game of her senior season, forward Melanie Natchtigall had a solid outing for FC, scoring 8 points, collecting 11 rebounds, aggressively attacking the rim and kept Bakersfield Christian’s defense on their guard all night long.

“Melanie had a fantastic game tonight,” Tosland said. “She really cleaned up the boards, and played great defense on one of their best players.”

The play of the night however involved three junior guards: Emily Kreighoff, Katie White, and Hensley.

After Maltos pulled down a defensive rebound, Hensley dribbled through two defenders to about 10 feet behind the 3-point line, and dished to White, who was near the basket. As she was stopped by a defender, White made a sharp bounce-pass to Kreighoff who laid it in for 2 points.

“Tonight was a total team effort,” Krieghoff said. “We never stopped giving effort, even when we were up by a lot. Our whole team is excited about making it to Selland, and we will give it our best shot.” Krieghoff finished with 12 points.

Hensley, a 3-year starting varsity player, is headed for Selland to play the Royals of Mission Prep, for the 2nd straight year. With unparalleled experience she hopes to lead the Eagles to victory.

“I think this time we know shat to expect with Mission Prep, so we are a little more prepared,” Hensley said. “I think the newcomers (to varsity) on our team will be a little overwhelmed when we get there because playing in such a different atmosphere is nerve-wracking. All I can say is don’t be nervous with the crowd, and everyone just have fun.'”

The Eagles will next play No. 1 Mission Prep for the Central Section Division V Championship at Selland Arena, at 2 P.M., Feb. 29. This will be a rematch of last year’s championship game when Mission Prep came from behind to defeat the Eagles.

“We will face a 15-year champ, Friday afternoon, that has one of the best teams around,” Tosland said. “We expect it to be a battle as they are ranked No. 2 in the entire southern section (of California), and we are No. 3. They beat us earlier in the year, and they are the team to beat. So we have to be prepared. Either way, it should be a fun game to be apart of.”

EAGLES SET-ON CRUISE CONTROL, ADVANCE TO DIVISION V SEMI-FINALS–Feb. 22
After an emotional night a week prior, the Eagles easily defeated the visiting Strathmore Spartans, 62-25, in the opening round of playoffs, Feb. 22. FC outscored Strathmore each quarter and led 33-9 at half time.

?We jumped on them early and never let up,? head coach Josh Tosland said. ?It was a fun game. We knew that it could be one and done for us and we didn?t want the season to end just yet.?

From the opening tip-off, the Eagles kept control of the game. Lead by junior point guard Larrisa Hensley?s 12 points and 7 rebounds, FC was able to jump on the Spartans for a 16-5 lead after the first quarter.

Once again, junior guard Emily Krieghoff?s speed and smart play gave the Spartans more than they could handle throughout the game.

?The coaches really thought Emily was fantastic in such a short amount of time,? Tosland said, ?She changed the whole game in a blink of an eye.?

Krieghoff finished with 10 points despite the limited playing time. In fact 12 out of 13 Eagle players had points with the five starters already rotating to the bench by midway through the second quarter.

Amidst the excitement of a playoff victory, Tosland gave the crowd more to cheer about when he substituted sophomores Courtney Franz and Chelsea Shuman and freshman Michelle Graham for his starters in the fourth quarter. Schuman finished with 4 points while Franz had 2 and Graham made a free throw.

“When I first went in I was pretty nervous,” Shuman said. “It was really exciting and felt really exhilarating to play in front of the crazy fans. I didn’t think I was going to score but really focused on not messing up.”

The FC bench erupted every time one of the JV players took a shot and exploded in cheers and high fives when the rookie Eagles scored.

?One of the highlights was when the three JV girls were able to get some significant minutes and played well,? Tosland said. ?Each was able to get in on the scoring. The crowd went crazy and the varsity girls really ate that up as well.?

Junior guard Candace Gondolfo rounded out the top three in FC scoring with 11 points. Lisa Lopes had 10 points to lead the Spartans who finished their season with a 17-8 overall record.

With the 62-25 victory, the Eagles advance to the semi-finals, Feb. 27, against Bakersfield Christian.

EAGLES FINISH OFF BLUE RAIDERS; GO UNDEFEATED IN LEAGUE PLAY–Feb. 15
With tears running down their cheeks, seniors Melanie Nachtigall and Micaelah Aleman hugged numerous friends and family members after the Eagles 51-37 victory over Caruthers on “Senior Night.”

“Candace (Gandolfo ’09) was good at hitting some outside shots and kind of kept some momentum going, and Emily (Kreighoff ’09) and Tatiana (Fontes ’10) played great on the defensive end,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “With Larissa (Henley ’09) getting 11 assists, everyone was getting good looks at the basket.”

After going through 4 years in the FC basketball program, Aleman reflected on the many important life lessons she has learned along the way.

“I’ve learned the value of teamwork, and how to communicate better with others,” Aleman said. “Being apart of this great program has taught me to manage my emotions, and to be more patient.”

The game itself was never much of a contest as the Eagles turned the ball over only 11 times, on their way to an important victory (for playoff seeding purposes) over Caruthers. FC finished the SWSL a perfect 8-0.

“With trying to get an undefeated league under our belt, there was a little pressure,” Tosland said. “Caruthers is a very scrappy team, and they gave us a good battle which is what we kind of needed. Now it is on to the playoffs, where with a one and done format, a whole new season begins.”

Junior guard, and female athlete of the week, Emily Kreighoff led the Eagles with 12 points, while junior guard Candace Gandolfo and sophomore Tatiana Fontes added 11 each as the Eagles outworked and out-hustled the Blue Raiders.

“We ran the court very well like usual,” Nachtigall said. “Our fast-break wore them down and that allowed us to win the game.”

The Eagles have a chance to make a deep run into the state playoff, but more importantly they have learned key concepts such as integrity and hard work.

“The FC basketball program has taught me a lot about commitment and being able to trust my teammates,” Nachtigall said. “These past four years have been a great experience and enabled me to create lasting friendships and memories.”

The win marked a record 12th straight victory for the Eagles who have not lost since Mission Prep beat them, 47-32, Jan. 5.

The Eagles will next play Strathmore at home in the first round of the CIF Central Section Division V playoffs on Feb. 22, 7 P.M. FC is ranked 7th in the state’s Division V.

No. 1 seed, Mission Prep, will host Kings Christian (No. 8). Bakersfield Christian as the No. 3 seed will host Immanuel (No. 6) while No. 4 seed, Coast Union, will host Central Valley Christian (No. 5) is the other first round match-ups.

FRESNO BEE RANKS EAGLE BASKETBALL–Feb. 14
For the third week in a row, The Fresno Bee ranked the girls’ basketball team No. 2 in the local Division V on Feb. 14. The Eagles have not lost since Jan. 5.

FC will host Caruthers on Feb. 15 in the final SWSL match. FC has already won its first league title in 20 years and is playing for a perfect SWSL season: game time is 6 P.M. FC will host a playoff game against a team to be determined next Friday, Feb. 22 at 7 P.M. Check back for more information over the weekend.

Last month the Bee also predicted FC (24-5) will return to Selland Arena to challenge the top teams for the Valley championship in March. Mission Prep (20-4) of San Luis Obispo is currently ranked No. 1 and Cambria’s Coast Union (15-9) No. 3.

EAGLES PROVE TO BE THE BETTER BIRD–Feb. 12
The Hawks proved to be no match for the newly crowned league champion Eagles in a 65-8 FC blowout victory, Feb. 12.

“With the hawks coming to town, we knew we would have to keep our composure for the entire game,” head coach Josh Tosland. “We were glad to get this game behind us so we can start thinking playoffs.”

Junior guard Candace Gandolfo dropped 16 points for the Eagles, including a 50-foot prayer, at the end of the first half, that hit nothing but net.

“Candace played a great game with 12 points in the second quarter alone, “Tosland said. “But the biggest shot of the night was the last shot in the first half, that was heaved from about six feet behind halfcourt, and swished through the net.”

Gandolfo was still tingling with excitement over the shot long after the game.

“After we got the rebound, there were only 3 seconds on the clock,” Gandolfo said. “I shot it from beyond half court, and some how it went in. It was the coolest thing I’ve ever done.”

After the shot fell, the entire gym including the student section, exploded with excitement. Liberty head coach Rich Tarango, after the game, said to Tosland “You better call ESPN, because you don’t see that everyday.

The Eagles played a controlled game, turning the ball over only 7 times, making crisp passes, and settling for nothing but high-percentage shots.

“We played very well considering we were facing a way less-skilled team,” Gandolfo said. “We took care of the ball, and I liked that we didn’t play down to their level.”

Junior point guard Larissa Hensley contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists, for a double-double, and senior forward Melanie Nachtigall scored 8 points and had 4 rebounds.

“This was probably not a very fun game to watch for a spectator, as we were just too much for the Hawks,” Tosland said. “But I will take it any day of the week.”

The Eagles need one more win Feb. 15 (vs. Caruthers) to complete an undefeated league season. Playoff seedings will be anounced on Feb. 16.

Check back later to find out the Eagles’ first round opponent.

Freshman Ashlyn White believes the team has the potential to not only make it to the central section championship at Selland Arena, but to go even farther into the state playoffs.

“I think we can go farther than just Selland Arena, this year,” White said. “We just need to keep improving, and keep wanting it. Everyone on the team needs to give it our all.”

EAGLES OUTPLAY RIVERDALE FOR 10TH STRAIGHT WIN, 58-48–Feb. 8
The Eagles dashed ahead of the Cowgirls for transition buckets, and passed the ball extremely well in a 58-48 win at Riverdale, Feb. 8.

“Riverdale came out strong tonight and gave us a real challenge,” senior forward Melanie Nachtigall said. “Although most of us were feeling sick, we still took it to them.”

The Eagles fell behind, 14-12, after the first quarter, but bounced back to outscore the Cowgirls, 22-10, in the second quarter for a 36-22 halftime lead.

Though FC gave up 19 points to Riverdale’s senior point guard Amiee Brooks, the Eagles ran a well-balanced offensive attack, as a season-high four Eagles reached double-digits in scoring.

Though FC’s starting point guard, junior Larissa Hensley (10 rebounds, 4 assists, and 4 steals), was sick, other players stepped up and played key minutes.

“Needless to say, with our starting point guard sick, we were on the ropes,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “Larissa still had a good game, but she was definitely not herself. She really sacrificed for the team, and kept us under control.”

FC was led by sophomore center Paige Maltos who came off the bench and recorded a double-double, scoring 11 points and collecting 12 rebounds. Maltos has been a presence on defense for the Eagles lately, blocking 5 shots in each of her previous 3 games.

“In practice yesterday, we learned how to work against the different defenses that Riverdale would throw at us,” Maltos said. “I used that to my advantage today. I knew that it would be tougher to beat them on their home court, but we worked as a team and played very hard.”

FC also got 12 points from junior guards Candace Gandolfo and Emily Kreighoff, while Nachtigall also added 12.

“On the offensive side, we were doing a lot of dribble hand-offs, and this allowed me to get open drives down the key,” Nachtigall said. “Tonight, as well as every game, my offensive goal is to shoot 50%, and also to follow my shots for rebounds.

Though the Cowgirls matched them point for point in the third, FC outscored them 17-16 in the fourth to increase their margin of victory to 10 points.

Two free-throws by Nachtigall with 3 seconds remaining, capped of a spectacular night in Riverdale for the Eagles.

“I thought Melanie had a great game tonight,” Tosland said. “She had some great drives to the hole, and made acrobatic moves around defenders.”

FC needs only two more wins: Feb. 12 (vs. Liberty), and Feb. 15 (vs. Caruthers) to complete an undefeated league schedule, and win the school’s first girls basketball league championship in 20 years.

“We’ve had to fight through some adversity,” Tosland said. “But Tuesday we go for the outright league title. It will be well worth it.”

EAGLES DISTRIBUTE BALL WELL; BEAT FOWLER, 63-37–Feb. 5
The Eagles,led, 16-10, after the first quarter, and never looked back as they defeated the Redcats, 63-37, Feb.5, for their 9th straight victory.

“We played a much better game than the last time we played them,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “We committed much less fouls and turnovers. It was nice to see the girls come out and understand the importance of a big game, and a chance at a league championship, which is within our grasp.”

FC came into the game riding a wave of confidence, as summed up, before the game, by junior captain Larissa Hensley.

“We are very excited for today’s game,” Hensley said. “It will be difficult to beat Fowler twice, but as long as we stay focused and play our game, we will.”

Hensley scored 20 points and collected 10 rebounds, and senior Melanie Nachtigall added a season-high 14 points and 15 rebounds, as the Eagles spoiled Fowler’s senior night.

“I like playing against teams on their senior night, because they come ready to play,” Nachtigall said. “When coach Tosland came into the locker room, he said that this would be one of our hardest tests this season. We had to work our hardest tonight.”

The shots that have not been falling lately for FC fell vs. Fowler as the Eagles knocked down a season-high six 3-pointers.

“It was nice to hit a couple of outside shots, because lately we have been a little cold,” Tosland said. “Making six threes, like we did tonight, really hurts other teams.”

The Eagles need only a win, Feb. 8, at Riverdale, to win the Southwest Sierra League. FC has not lost since Jan. 5 against, defending central section champion, Mission Prep, and has won 15 of their last 17 games.

“With Fowler only having one loss in league, we knew the importance of this game,” Tosland said. “Having lost to Fowler for two years straight, and knowing that the records say they were the second best team, it was nice to beat them in their own house.

EAGLES DISMANTLE AZTECS, 47-31–Feb. 1
With a balanced offensive attack and aggressive defense, the Eagles defeated the current Northwest Sierra League second place team, Mendota, 47-31, Feb. 1.

Junior Larissa Hensley scored 12 points, junior Emily Kreighoff and sophomore Paige Maltos added 8 a piece, and freshman Ashlyn White added 4 points and 4 steals for the Eagles.

Hensley has played very well with Kreighoff this season, and says it is “really fun playing with her.”

“Emily runs the floor very well,” Hensley said. “We are so used to playing together that I can throw the ball to her when she isn’t looking and know she will still turn around.”

Coach Josh Tosland continues to be impressed with his starting guards.

“Emily was again a stud on both ends of the court,” Tosland said. “She is such a weapon especially when playing with Larissa. They work very well together.”

After taking an 11-7 first quarter lead, the Eagles raced ahead of the Aztecs in the second to increase their advantage to 23-13 at the half.

FC then outscored Mendota, 24-18, in the second half to claim their 8th straight victory.

“We really controlled the tempo all night long,” Tosland said. “We also did a good job of being in control and not committing too many fouls.”

Paige Maltos delivered an inspiring performance in her first game back from an injury, as did the rest of the Eagles post players, earning recognition from their coach.

“It was nice to see (sophomore) Paige (Maltos) come back and have a nice game,” Tosland said. “She played hard and hustled up and down the floor. (Senior) Melanie (Nachtigall) contributes by being a great leader out there with her intensity and competitiveness all the time. And (sophomore) Tatiana (Fontes) and (junior) Ellie (Mullins) gave some good minutes on the floor, and are improving day by day.”

Kreighoff also commended Maltos for her aggressive play and rebounding skill.

“Paige came back and had a reat game,” Kreighoff said. “It was tough having her gone because of all the rebounds and put-backs she gets. Hopefully her injury won’t affect her in the future.”

Tosland also praised the play of two of his junior guards Katie White and Candace Gandolfo.

“I thought Candace and Katie played a very controlled game,” Tosland said. “They let the game come to them and also provided some key assists.”

The Eagles will next play at Fowler, Feb.5, starting at 6 P.M.

FRESNO BEE RANKS EAGLE BASKETBALL–JAN. 31
For the third week in a row, The Fresno Bee ranked the girls’ basketball team No. 2 in Division V on Jan. 31. The Eagles have not lost since Jan. 5.

Head coach Josh Tosland was surprised at the attention the team has received in recent weeks.

“It has been very nice to see the rankings in the paper multiple weeks,” Tosland said. “The team is being recognized, as they should be, for a lot of hard work. We are not the type of team that looks for rewards or respect, but we appreciate it very much.

“The Fresno Bee has been very nice to recognize us and has shown us in a good light. They did a great article on our team not too long ago and helped put our team on the map for high school basketball. I am surprised at how many people read the Bee and watch those rankings on a weekly basis. It has been eye opening to see how many people not only look at the rankings, but is paying attention to our box scores and our opponents. It seems as if we have a large backing and people are wanting to see something special.”

The Bee also predicted FC (20-5) will return to Selland Arena to challenge the top teams for the Valley championship in March. Mission Prep (17-4) of San Luis Obispo is currently ranked No. 1 and Cambria’s Coast Union (13-9) No. 3.

EAGLES WIN 7th STRAIGHT–JAN. 29
With a hostile Blue Raiders’ crowd looking on, the Eagles defeated Caruthers, 46-26, Jan. 29.

The Eagles were led by senior Emily Kreighoff, who scored 12 points and picked the Raiders for 4 steals, while senior Melanie Nachtigall added 11 points of her own.

“We stuck to our game plan and ran the fast-break very well,” Kreighoff said. “We tired them out by the third quarter.I think if we keep doing our best and playing good team defense, we will have a very good chance of going undefeated in league.”

Junior Larissa Hensley also had a solid all-around game with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 7 steals.

“Larissa had a great game tonight,” Tosland said. “She probably could have had some more points but looking at her stat line, she was helping out everywhere.”

When Hensley needed a break at point guard, junior Candace Gandolfo took over the wheel. Gandolfo played four minutes without her running mate and did not turn the ball over once against a full-court man press.

“I thought Candace did a good job running the point guard position tonight and handling their pressure,” Tosland said. “She has been in a backup role to Larissa and did a good job out htere tonight. It’s nice to see her fill in that role when we were in need.”

Though he was satisfied with the win, Tosland has already started looking ahead to the Eagles’ Feb.1 game vs. Mendota.

“This was a very physical game with many more fouls that could have been called,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “The referees probably let too many plays go, and there was almost a point where some players could have hotten hurt. The coaches were a little fired up watching some of the action.”

FC played without junior guard Katie White for most of the game after she jammed her thumb in the first quarter.

“We were pleased to get out of Caruthers with a win,” Tosland said. “We are looking ahead to our non-league game against Mendota.”

EAGLES TOO MUCH FOR COWGIRLS–JAN. 25
The Eagles defeated the Cowgirls, 47-34, behind the scoring of juniors Larissa Hensley (14 points) and Emily Kreighoff (12 points) to claim their sixth straight victory.

“We were a lot quicker down the court than them in the second half,” Kreighoff said. “We played our game and pushed the ball up the court. But the main goal tonight was to stop their leading scorer (senior Aimee Brooks), which we did.”

The Eagles held Brooks to just 3 points for the game, while challenging the rest of her team to beat them. They shut down the senior by throwing a couple of different defenders at her, and playing hard-nosed defense for the entire game.

“Emily defended their main scorer very well tonight, holding her to no points in the first half,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “(Junior) Katie (White) also came in and played well on her. She didn’t score until the final minutes when we got a little sloppy on defense.”

After a convincing victory over Fowler earlier in the week, the Eagles offense was unable to pull away from Riverdale in the first quarter. FC scored only 11 points while allowing the Cowgirls to score 7 of their own.

Riverdale’s defense also gave FC trouble in the second quarter. And after they outscored the home team, 12-10, on offense, the Eagles held a meager 2-point lead heading into halftime.

Tosland’s team offense pulled away in the third as the Eagles scored 14 points. FC’s defense also silenced the visiting Cowgirls as they gave up only 4 points in the quarter.

“We started running more in the second half,” White said. “Our post players made quick outlet passes and we beat them for easy buckets.”

With all the momentum and a 12-point lead, heading into the fourth, the Eagles coasted to the victory as they added another 12 points.

“Sometimes the games feel uninteresting because we win so much,” Kreighoff said. “During those times, coach has us work on things that we are not very good at. He never treats any game as a definite win, even when we are up by a lot.”

FC remains unbeaten (3-0) in league play with the victory over Riverdale.

“The coaches knew that after an emotionally draining game against Fowler, we might have a little let down,” Tosland said. “Even though we had a small one, the girls played decent in the first half and pretty good in the second. We look forward to taking on the only team in league that we have not seen yet on Tuesday.”

EAGLES TAKE DOWN DEFENDING CHAMPS–JAN. 22
With adrenaline pumping and the motivation of two straight winless seasons vs. Fowler, the Eagles defeated the defending North West Sierra League champion Redcats, 72-35, Jan. 22.

“Since we didn’t beat Fowler last year, and they were the number one team, we all came out with tons of energy and enthusiasm to win,” sophomore forward Tatiana Fontes said. “We kept the intensity switch on for the entire game and were confident in our ability to dominate.”

Knowing Fowler would be a very physical team, FC prepared for the game with tough practices.

“With Fowler being the reigning champs, we knew if we wanted to be the best, we would have to beat them,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “We knew they would be physical, so we had some physical practices to get ready for it.”

Junior Larissa Hensley attacked the rim all night on her way to a game-high 18 points. She also added 11 rebounds and 5 assists to cap of a stellar performance.

“Larissa was phenomenal tonight,” Tosland said. “You could tell she wanted this one pretty bad. She kept attacking, kept the tempo up all night, and ended up with a double-double.”

After a solid all-around first half, FC held a 41-19 halftime lead. Behind solid defense, led by junior Emily Kreighoff, the Eagles shut down the Redcats’ attack.

“I am very pleased with the overall effort tonight,” Tosland said. “Some things don’t show up in the box score, but Emily had another great defensive game against one of the toughest players in our league. She is also looking forward to another challenge this Friday.”

Though Fowler played tired in the second half, the Eagles kept the pressure on converting on the offensive end for 25 points in the third; their highest scoring quarter of the year.

Sophomore center Paige Maltos returned from a first quarter injury to score 14 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to join Hensley with a double-double. The Eagles also got 8points from junior Candace Gandolfo, and 7 points and 6 rebounds from Fontes, while senior Melanie Nachtigall contributed 6 points and 7 rebounds.

“I went up for a rebound off a free throw and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground with no idea what just happened,” Maltos said. “There was a spark in me that wanted to come back and play and beat Fowler. I couldn’t leave my team and nothing was going to stop me.”

Maltos will miss the next game vs. Riverdale, Jan. 25, and is out of the lineup indefinitely, because of an injury due to her fall.

The Eagles are currently on a 5-game winning streak and have a chance to go undefeated in the Southwest Sierra League for the first time in school history.

“The coaches like what we are seeing and just want the team to keep getting better each day,” Tosland said. “These girls have put in a lot of time, and we know it will soon be over, so we want to do all that we can.”

EAGLE FIREPOWER TOO MUCH FOR HAWKS–JAN. 17
The Eagles took advantage of a very young Libery team beating the overmatched Hawks, 71-17, Jan. 17.

After taking a 41-9 halftime lead the Eagles never gave the Hawks a chance to breath as they outscored them 19-4 in the third quarter to take an impressive 60-13.

FC was led by junior point guard Larissa Hensley who scored a game-high 14 points, 9 rebounds, 5 steals, and 5 assists, while junior Candace Gandolfo chipped in 13 points, and sophomore Tatiana Fontes added 12 points and 6 rebounds.

“We had too much firepower for them,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “We knew going in that Liberty was a young team, graduating their starting lineup from last year. The girls also knew that this was our first league game and wanted to make a statement. I think they did that by playing loose and having a good time out there.”

Hensley made many great passes and made sure that every player on the team scored as the Eagles shot 49% from the field as a team. She was also solid from the free-throw line making 4 of 5 for 80%.

“We worked hard on trying to concentrate on our shots more so that when we play harder teams we will be able to have a highter shooting percentage and take advantage of our scoring opportunities,” Hensly said. “We worked the ball around, and continued to run the floor to give every everyone an opportunity to score.”

As a team FC stole the ball 23 times, pulled down 15 offensive rebounds and only turned the ball over 5 times. The Eagles next face a 10-6 Fowler team fresh off a league chamipionship a year ago.

“We are looking forward to Tuesday’s matchup for first place in league,” Tosland said. “Winner takes first and we know that Fowler is the champs from last year and until someone beats them, they will remain the champs. They play an uptempo game with pressing and look to stroke the three ball. We hope our next two days of practice will be stepped up in order to prepare.”

The Eagles will next host Fowler on Jan. 22.

“I am really excited for Fowler game,” Hensly said. “It is a very important game for us because they are our hardest competition in league. We need to be tough physically and mentally and play all four quarters of the game. We are looking forward to showing them what our team is all about.”

EAGLES TAKE OVER EARLY; COMPLETELY CONTROL TEMPO IN 52-9 BLOWOUT–JAN. 16
The No. 2 ranked Eagles were off and running early grabbing a quick 12-2 lead and never looked back as they stomped Tranquillity, 52-9.

Increased defensive work at practice paid off as FC held an opponent under 10 points for the first time this season.

“Our whole team is happy with the effort tonight,” junior guard Emily Kreighoff said. “We all played our hardest and tried to work on things we need to practice during the game. Our main goal now is to win our league. We want to improve after every practice and game.”

The Eagles were led by senior forward Melanie Natchigall who scored 15 points, grabbed 5 rebounds, and handed out 3 assists.

“I missed a game due my sister’s (Michelle) wedding rehearsal dinner and was preoccupied this past week,” Nachtigall said. “I felt I needed to make up for being unable to play. I was able to focus on the game. Coach challenged me to score and I took him up on it.”

“It’s nice to see Melanie attack the rim like tonight,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “She is a talented player that few teams can stop. We are trying to get her some more touches and opportunities in her range.”

Junior point guard Larissa Hensley added 14 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals, and 3 assists to pace the Eagle attack.

FC also received some major contributions from sophomores Paige Maltos (10 points, 7 rebounds, 3 blocks) and Tatiana Fontes (8 rebounds).

Though the Eagles have had their way with most of their pre-league competition, Tosland is not taking the up-coming league games lightly.

“Tomorrow the trek up the mountain for a league title begins,” Tosland said. “We know we have a bull’s-eye on our back and we will get the best of every team every night, so we have to be ready. Any game can be a good game. We are trying not to look ahead to Fowler on Tuesday, but we know that is the big game.”

The Eagles will next travel to Madera Ranchos to take on Liberty, Jan. 17.

EAGLES BLOW OUT DIVISION IV RIVALS–JAN. 11
The Eagles burst out of the gate hot grabbing an early lead, and never looked back as they defeated Division IV’s No. 3 ranked Broncos, 75-33.

FC stepped by their offensive game, without senior Melanie Nachtigall, who was preoccupied with family obligations, shooting a stellar 7 of 19 on 3-point attempts and 16 of 28 from the free-throw stripe. Junior guard Candace Gandolfo led the team with 24 points, while junior point guard Larissa Hensley scored 20 and collected 8 rebounds.

“I think our performance was about a seven out of ten,” Hensley said. “At halftme, coach Tosland told us to slow it down and work on our halfcourt offense. We might of scored more if we kept fastbreaking but we had an opportunity to work on what we aren’t so good at, so thats what we did.”

Sophomore center Paige Maltos had a solid night in the post, recording 10 points and 12 rebounds for a double-double, and freshman forward Ashlyn White added 8 points and 9 rebounds.

FC led 21-5 after the first quarter and 39-14 at the half after stifling Dos Palos’s high-scoring duo Porsha Rivers and Chessa DeFrancesco.

The Eagles shut down Rivers, the Broncos leading scorer holding her to just 10 points, well below her season average, while giving up 14 to DeFrancesco.

“Porsha is always a threat,” head coach Josh Tosland said. “But not after we took care of her with a couple of steals early and smothering defense throughout. She was never able to go off. We stayed in front of her and her points were off of fast breaks and one jumper in the key.”

Gandolfo had a spectacular night hitting three 3-pointers in the first quarter and repeatedly driving the ball to the hoop with aggression throughout the game the highest scoring outing of her career.

“This game really gave me alot of confidence,” Gandolfo said. “My shot was feeling good before the game thanks to the practice with my personal coach, and I just kept shooting. I was pumped up after hitting three straight 3-pointers in the first quarter, and I continued to drive and draw contact. By the second half, I knew that they could not stop me.”

Gondolfo’s 24 points were a game high, and she also added 3 steals, 3 assists and 4 rebounds to her performance.

Without her running partner, Nachtigall, Hensley controlled the tempo getting the Eagles offense rolling time and time again.

“I thought Larissa did a great job with tempo and attacking the basket and really dept the pressure on,” Tosland said. “We needed someone to step up and it just so happens everyone did. The coaching staff was very pleased to say the least.”

In order to invest in the next generation of athletes, the Eagles will host a basketball clinic for 5-8 grade girls on the morning of Saturday, Jan.12 in the FC gym.

“The high school teams and coaches will be running the clinic and investing in our program’s youth,” Tosland said. “We understand the importance in giving back and want to keep this thing rolling.”

After losing to games on the coast last weekend, the Eagles have won two straight and will host Tranquillity, Jan. 16, and open their Southwest Sierra League season at Liberty-Madera, Jan. 17.

FRESNO BEE RANKS EAGLE BASKETBALL–JAN. 10
The Fresno Bee ranked the girls’ basketball team No. 2 in Division V on Jan. 10.

Athletic director Chris Schultz was upbeat after hearing the news.

“It is the goal of the athletic department to develop teams of athletic distinction, on and off the court,” Schultz said. “Coach (Josh) Tosland and the girls’ basketball program have worked extremely hard the past couple of years to compete at the highest level possible. Their success is the result of excellent coaching, student-athletes working hard, and a group of people using their God-given talents.”

The Bee also predicted FC (14-5) will return to Selland Arena to challenge the top teams for the Valley championship in March. Mission Prep (13-4) of San Luis Obispo is currently ranked No. 1 and Cambria’s Coast Union (9-7) No. 3.

EAGLES GET ON HOT STREAK IN SECOND QUARTER; RUN AWAY WITH 61-23 VICTORY–JAN. 8
The Eagles shocked the visiting Buccaneers by breaking a 4-4 tie with a 41-1 run to end the half and cruised to a 61-23 win on Jan. 8.

FC led, 17-4, after the first quarter and 45-5 at halftime against an over-matched Avenal team.

“Candace did a good job of running the point guard spot and we are trying to keep improving game by game,” coach Josh Tosland said. “She is aggressive enough to go by people and she ran the slow down offense which the coaches asked her to do and she did a pretty good job.”

Gondolfo finished the game with 4 steals, 3 rebounds and 2 points.

The hot streak began with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, and was led by junior guards Larissa Hensley and Emily Krieghoff (7 steals in the first quarter) who stole the ball multiple times for easy fast-break layups.

“It was over pretty early,” Tosland said. “We were too quick for them showing in our 17 first half steals. We also created a lot of turnovers that generated extra possessions.”

In the locker room at halftime, Tosland told his team to slow down the pace and not fast-break on every possession in order that they might improve their half court offense. Though it cost them a few baskets FC was determined to get better.

Hensley paced FC with 22 points, while junior guard Katie White and sophomore center Paige Maltos chipped in 10 points a piece, balancing out a solid Eagle attack.

FC greatly improved their shooting as 46% of their shots fell through the net compared to 16% in their last game. But Tosland was not as upbeat after the game as the score would indicate.

“The bottom line is that we need to get better in all areas of the game,” Tosland said. “We knew in the second half we wanted to work more on some things that we were not very good at. But we played through some growing pains tonight. We need to be a lot sharper on Friday as we host a very good and tough Dos Palos team.”

MISSION PREP SHOWCASE-JAN. 4-5
POOR SHOOTING, LIMITED BENCH STIFLES EAGLE ATTACK–JAN. 5
The Eagles never recovered after going down 10-2 in the first quarter and the host Royals cruised to a 47-32 victory over the Eagles at the Mission Prep Showcase in San Luis Obispo, Jan. 5.

Poor shot selection and an overall 16.4 field goal percentage, combined with early foul trouble doomed the Eagles in front of a hostile Royal crowd. The Eagles were down 21-13 at half and never threatened.

“We got down big from the start and it really was only because we were making bad decisions,” coach Josh Tosland said. “We really did a good job in all parts of the game except the most important part–making shots. We played good defense; we attacked the basket, got to the foul line, but couldn’t get there enough.”

The Eagles shot 63% from the foul line but foul trouble altered Tosland’s game plan. Sophomore center Paige Maltos got two fouls within the first two minutes of the game that hurt the Eagles offensively.

“While our girls, and especially (guard) Emily Krieghoff, drove to the basket, we should have been able to get more foul shots,” Tosland said. “Some of our girls seemed to be in awe of this tournament and really didn’t settle down and play.”

The 3rd quarter was all Mission Prep. The Royals outscored and outplayed FC, 14-7, as senior guard Leigh Yetter’s 19 points was the difference.

While the Eagles played a tighter 4th quarter, the bench scoring, normally a big part of each game, did not materialize. Junior guard Larissa Hensley’s 13 points were not enough to get it done on this day. The next highest Eagle point-getter was junior guard Ashlyn White who added 4 points.

RINCON VALLEY ESCAPES WITH 53-37 WIN–JAN. 4-5
After outscoring Rincon Valley, 9-8, in the first quarter, the Eagles struggled early in the second during their first game of the Mission Prep Showcase, Jan. 4. The Eagles of Santa Rosa outscored FC, 15-6, to take a 23-15 lead into halftime.

However, while the two teams battled, the storm outside would dictate the final outcome of the game.

FC came out strong in the third quarter led by junior guard Larissa Hensley’s 17 points. And while both teams surged during the quarter, Rincon came out on top.

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