PATTERSON – Take your pick against Patterson High School’s girls basketball team.
You can try to stop point guard Povai Fesili at the point of attack. Mess that up and she’ll beat you with a slashing drive to the rim. Or, you could try to contain outside sharpshooter Shaelyn Craven. But then you’d have to worry about senior Ariyanna Cashen, who is dangerous down low on the block.
Weston Ranch didn’t have much success against any of the three Thursday night as the Tigers cruised to a 66-51 win in their Sac-Joaquin Section Division III girls quarterfinal matchup.
Cashen, a 5-foot-11 senior, scored 26 points and grabbed 18 rebounds, while Craven scored 18 points – 12 from three-point land – with four steals and four assists. Fesili handled the ball against the Cougars’ pressure, scoring just four points but grabbing seven boards and dishing out eight assists.
And for the second consecutive season, the Tigers reach the semifinal round. Last year, they were eliminated by eventual state champ Modesto Christian. This year, they face top-seeded Vanden, a team that looks very much like MC in style and substance.
“This is huge for our seniors,” said Patterson coach Elizabeth Tolleson. “They’re able to go back and get a second chance at a rare opportunity. I hope they’re ready and make the best of it.”
Fesili, who left the court fighting back tears after last year’s 62-51 semifinal loss, thinks the Tigers will be prepared for another shot.
“Last year, that was a heartbreaking loss,” said Fesili. “Our goal has been to get to Sleep Train Arena. We have to come out with the right mentality, practice hard and things will fall into place.”
Cashen, who scored 18 of her game-high 26 in the second half, got the majority of her points on second-shot opportunities.
“We call her ‘Garbage Girl’ because she gets all those missed shots,” said Tolleson. “She’s got really big hands, like a wide receiver, and she just doesn’t let the ball drop.”
With the victory, Patterson is guaranteed a berth in the Northern California tournament. But according to Cashen, the safety net of already having a NorCal bid won’t change the Tigers’ immediate goal – a section championship.
“We’re not really focused on anything else; we want to win the section,” said Cashen. “We definitely want to get farther than last year’s team.”
Patterson (26-3) will travel to take on Vanden (26-3) on Tuesday at Cosumnes River College in Sacramento. The other semifinal features No. 7 Florin (20-8) against No. 3 Rio Linda (24-5), also at CRC. Start times have yet to be announced. The winners meet March 6 at 7:30 for the D-III title at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.