WOMEN’S BASKETBALL: Giants roll past Taft

COS’ Kyla Wandick dribbles the ball against Merced this past Wednesday night. With a 71-50 win over Merced, the Giants improved to 5-2 in conference play to keep pace with Fresno City and Reedley in the Central Valley Conference. (Norma Foster/COS Athletics)

COS women’s basketball picks up a 75-57 win over Taft at home this past Saturday; Giants improve to 18-8 overall and 8-2 in the Central Valley Conference as the postseason nears

COS ATHLETICS – College of the Sequoias’ women’s basketball team has moved a step closer to securing an 11th consecutive berth in the postseason.

The Giants rolled past Taft 75-57 in a Central Valley Conference game Feb. 17 at Porter Field House to become one of 13 teams in Northern California with at least 18 wins heading into the last week of the regular season.

The NorCal Regional playoffs will be announced Feb. 25 and Sequoias (18-8 overall and 8-2 in the CVC) is positioned to be selected for the 24-team field, possibly as high as a top-16 seed that would guarantee at least one home game. The top eight seeds receive first-round byes and open with second-round home games, while seeds No. 9-16 host first-round games.

The Giants are ranked No. 17 in the state and No. 9 in NorCal by the California Community College Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, and have the sixth-best total Rating Percentage Index – a factor in determining playoff seeding – among teams in NorCal.

“We needed this win,” coach Doug White said. “This probably got us into the playoffs.”

Sequoias ran its winning streak to four games by overcoming a first-quarter deficit (22-20) against Taft.

The Cougars (15-11, 3-7) pulled in front by six points (26-20) early in the second quarter before the Giants closed the first half on a 19-2 run that featured eight of Kyla Wandick’s game-leading 26 points.

Sequoias stretched its lead to 23 points (62-39) with 31 seconds left in the third quarter on a pair of free throws by Lucia Ricci (Seattle, Wa.).

The Giants’ lead grew as large as 24 points in the fourth quarter, the last time on a layup by Wandick (Bakersfield) with 5:07 remaining in the game that made the score 68-44.

Taft got no closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

“We’re playing hard,” White said. “Sometimes they are on, and sometimes they don’t listen and they are off. But when they listen we do good things. When they listen to the game plan, we’ve been tearing them up.”

Wandick made eight of her 16 shots from the field, including both of her 3-point attempts, while going 8-for-8 from the free throw line. She also contributed four rebounds, two assists and a steal.

Ricci delivered 12 points, seven rebounds, four assists and two steals, while Trinity Ferro (Corcoran) had 11 points, three rebounds, two assists and a block for the Giants.

Sequoias also received seven points, four assists, three rebounds and a steal from Maci Chavez (Kingsburg); six points, four rebounds and two blocks from Geizzle Jones (Bullard-Fresno); five points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two assists from Anisa Torres (Caruthers); four points, six rebounds, three steals, an assist and a block from Darleth Felix (Tulare Union); four points, three assists, a rebound and a steal from Teresa Sandoval (Hanford West); and a rebound and assist from Andrea Perez (Porterville).

The Giants have an opportunity to avenge their two CVC losses – and bolster their playoff resume – with regular season-closing road games against state No. 6 Fresno City (23-4, 11-0) at 7 p.m. Feb. 21 and Reedley (16-9, 7-3) at 7 p.m. Feb. 23. The conference champion Rams topped the Giants 77-73 on Jan. 27, while the Tigers beat the Giants 67-60 on Jan. 31.

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