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By Roger Hornback / Special to the Californian
BY STEPHEN LYNCH Special to The Californian
Even for a player of Erica McCall’s elite status, it was tremendous all-around display of skills.
From driving the lane and demonstrating her feathery touch with running layups off the glass to blocking and altering numerous shots on the other end, McCall was utterly dominant on Friday night.
The senior center had a season-high 32 points to go along with 15 rebounds and 10 blocked shots as the Wolf Pack beat previously undefeated Garces 59-38 in the final pool-play game of the Stockdale Holiday Round-Up.
With the win, Ridgeview (11-1) is the top seed in Pool C and advances to today’s semifinals, where it will face Bakersfield High.
Stockdale will play Garces in the other semifinal.
“It’s really big tournament for us,” McCall said. “Coming in we knew that losing to Stockdale (earlier in the season), that really hurt us. It’s still on our minds now so coming in we just knew we had to get this win and prove that we could still get this.”
Matched up against Garces’ talented freshman center C.J. West, McCall started off slowly before exploding for 15 second-quarter points.
That helped Ridgeview, which struggled shooting from the outside, go from being tied to up 26-14 in just a matter of three minutes.
That was all the breathing room the Wolf Pack needed as Garces (11-1) never found its stroke from 3-point range and McCall kept the Rams from doing much damage inside.
“I give them a lot of credit; they banged and they fought hard,” Ridgeview coach Michael Martin said of Garces. “But we did what we were supposed to do. That’s our goal this year, — to get to where we got to go. We know what we’re playing for.”
The Rams were paced by Rachel West, who had had 17 points and six rebounds. C.J., her younger sister, finished with 12 points and 20 rebounds.
But their solid combined effort wasn’t nearly enough to keep Garces from falling from the ranks of the unbeaten.
“They’re a tough team,” Garces coach Tod Denison said. “We knew that coming in. They’re a good, solid basketball team.”
Ridgeview outshot Garces 31-percent (22-of-72) to 20-percent (11-of-54) from the field and committed only six turnovers compared to 19 by the Rams.
“We did a really good job at taking care of the basketball,” Martin said. “We have really worked hard on that.”
The Wolf Pack made only 2-of-31 3-point attempts, but was able to score in transition, and with McCall driving to the basket once it settled into its half-court offense.
McCall, who made one of the 3-pointers, continually received the ball beyond the free throw line. From there, she was able to use her quickness to knife into the heart of the Garces defense for easy baskets.
Most of her other points were scored on put-backs and on fast breaks.
“I have really been working on my outside game,” McCall said. “I’m glad that it’s starting to show. I knew that I just had to keep pushing and if I attacked (C.J. West), I knew I could get some good layups.”
Martin was pleased, but not the least bit surprised by McCall’s performance.
“I’m just glad Erica is on my team and I’m going to miss her when she’s gone,” Martin said.
While most of Friday's games went as expected, Porterville-Monache managed to upset Bakersfield High, 45-39.
Marissa Jones, who had 22 and 18 points in the Drillers’ first two games of the tournament, scored only two against the Marauders before fouling out.
Despite the loss BHS beat out Monache for first place in Pool B based on overall point-differential.
Host Stockdale dominated all three of its opponents to win Pool A.