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Mission College Saints Settle for Split of Conference Title

The Mission College Saints had already clinched at least a tie of the Coast Conference Championship heading into Friday night’s matchup with the Cabrillo Seahawks. However, a loss to Cabrillo in the season finale would give both teams identical 9-1 league records, having beaten each other once each. A win would have earned the Saints the outright title. Unfortunately for Mission college fans, their team would fall 73-58, settling for a share of the Conference title.

“The better team won tonight, coulda shoulda woulda, we didn’t get it done, period,” remarked Saints Head Coach Corey Cafferata. “This was a bad night for us. We have had two or three bad games this season. And this was one of them. But that does not take away from them coming up here on our floor and kicking our butts. They are a good team.”

Early on the Saints had trouble with Seahawks sharp shooter Michaela Thornton. The freshman guard drained a trio of three pointers among the first 13 points for the Seahawks as Cabrillo raced out to a 13-3 lead in the first few minutes. Mission would fall down by as much as 11 in the first quarter at 15-4 and 17-6, but they closed out the quarter reasonably well — only down 23-17 going into the second.

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One of those momentum changing plays late in the opening quarter was a hard-nosed layup by sophomore Ashley Del Rio, who earned a tough and-one opportunity. She would knock down her free throw to pull Mission from down 17-6, to 17-9 with the three-point play.

“We ran the jet. That’s how we play, we do fastbreaks and our three-point shots started to fall at that point too,” recalled Del Rio on the team’s turnaround from a slow start. “We started communicating a lot better on defense too.”

Mission displayed their shooting depth in the game with Madison Hotchkiss, Cynthia Gomez, Akira McGee and Maya Austin all knocking down three pointers on the night, but there just wasn’t enough consistency in the offense driving the lane and creating open shots.

Despite coming all the way back to take brief leads at the end of the second and beginning of the third quarter, the Saints simply weren’t good enough at either end. In the second half, it was Cabrillo star sophomore Heleyna Hill taking over the game and driving the lane for inside buckets time and time again.

Del Rio led the way for Mission with 18 points, but Austin would be the only other Saint in double digits. Cabrillo pulled away in the second half of third quarter, including a buzzer beating two-point shot that gave the Seahawks an 11-point advantage heading into the fourth.

There would be no fourth-quarter comeback as the Seahawks dropped the hammer in the final quarter to earn a share of the Conference title. Both teams will now head to the California Community College Athletic Association playoffs.

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