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Girls' basketball team earns Central Section DV title

After three years of close loses at Selland Arena, the varsity girls’ top-seeded basketball team was named California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Central Section Division V Valley Champions. They defeated No. 2 seed Central Valley Christian (Visalia) , 49-40, at Selland Arena, March 5.

Although the first half ended with the team behind 15-11, a come-from-behind second half secured the victory. West Sequoia League (WSL) Most Valuable Player, senior Paige Maltos, had 19 points in the half after being shut out in the first. She also had 10 rebounds and was named MVP directly after the game.

“It feels amazing to do it, but I couldn’t have done it without my team,” Maltos said. “I can’t believe it happened! I’m definitely in la la land right now! I didn’t expect anything for me personally but we all just wanted the game so bad. Our team has worked hard and over come so many obstacles. Words cannot express the way we feel.”

Senior captain Tatiana Fontes says the championship moment was a euphoric one for the team.

“The absolute best moment was dog-piling in the middle of the court, all of us rejoicing together,” Fontes said. “Also, seeing our fans from the stage cheering for us and having the confetti fall was very satisfying. It finally felt like we were champions.”

Maltos’ older sister, Carly Martinez, says the win was crucial and thrilling for the team, and Paige especially.

“I am very exuberant and thrilled because I’ve seen them leave here crying too many times, but now they can leave here happy,” Martinez said. “I hope that this will give Paige the confidence to play at the next level.”

After taking his team to the finals for the 4th straight year, coach Josh Tosland was confident his team was ready for the challenge.

“We knew we matched up well with them and it was going to be a game of individual matchups,” coach Josh Tosland said. “It would come down to who would show up. Our defense was strong in the first half but we couldn’t get anything to fall. Paige and Ashlyn (White) did a great job tonight of stepping up and leading us offensively. We need them to do that every game and they came through.”

White finished the game with 14 points and 8 rebounds. The win comes on the heels of Tosland being named the 2010 WSL Coach of the Year.

“For such a small school as we are, I’m very please that Josh Tosland was named coach of the year by the fellow coaches in the league,” athletic director Cynthia Ward said. “That’s the ultimate compliment to a coach; and he definitely deserved it.”

Over half the student body attended the game, including many with painted faces, signs and even cheered using a giant 10-foot FC flag.

“I am so thankful that the team and the coaches have been rewarded with this victory,” Ward said. “They have worked hard all year long with this goal in mind, and they have accomplished it. Our fan base was huge and everyone was really into the game. We all got to savor the moment with the team.”

Sophomore Trevor York, a game announcer during the regular season, was one of the many exuberant fans at the game.

“It was really cool, doing it my second year,” York said. “It’s exciting that we finally won after trying three times. I know they tried really hard to get here. We’re a lot more proud now; it’s a real confidence booster for the sports teams.”

Former campus basketball player, and close friend of many current players, senior Kayla Haydock says the best part of the win is the years of work put in beforehand.

“I’m so happy because I’ve watched them work for this so hard,” Haydock said. “They’ve done [Selland] so many times, and it was the seniors’ last chance. Over and over they kept getting up after losing and finally did it.”

The Eagles are now 23-7 and will likely host a Southern California Regional game, March 9. FC is on a 16-game winning streak and their next opponent, game-time and seeding will be announced, March 7. Central Valley Christian (24-5) will go on the road for their first game.

“For the rest of playoffs, I hope we get further than last year, but most importantly that we keep playing great games and have fun with each other,” Fontes said. “They will be the last games of our season and of my basketball career.”

Girls Basketball: Selland Arena from Paige Powell on Vimeo.

For more information, read the Girls’ basketball sport shorts, 2009-10, Part II. Check back, as this article will be updated with quotes from players, photos and a full slideshow.

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    Lori MascarenasJan 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

    Emily was also the only Div V player selected to the All Tournament team! Not that I’m bragging… . OK, I am just a little….. LOVE YOU EMMMM!