Fallbrook High School won the Valley League girls basketball championship.
The Warriors concluded regular-season play Feb. 14 with a 65-39 home victory over San Pasqual.
“They won the game handily,” said Fallbrook coach Tony Morrow.
Fallbrook didn’t win the league championship outright, as Ramona matched Fallbrook’s 7-1 league record. Each team handed the other it’s only league loss of 2016-2017. A Jan. 24 game in Ramona had a 59-54 result in Ramona’s favor, while a Feb. 10 game in Fallbrook resulted in a 54-45 victory for the Lady Warriors.
In the event of a shared league championship, one team is the designated league champion and is guaranteed a home playoff game. The tiebreaking criteria used can be the winner of the second-round game or the overall record; Fallbrook had the advantage over Ramona in both of those. Fallbrook’s Feb. 10 victory gave both Fallbrook and Ramona 6-1 Valley League records with one game remaining.
“We had to get past San Pasqual,” said Morrow. “The girls came out ready for that game without a doubt.”
The score was 13-13 after the end of the first period, but Fallbrook held a 36-23 lead at halftime.
“They took over the game in the second quarter,” said Morrow. “We pretty much controlled the game at that point.”
The victory gave the Warriors their first girls basketball league title since the 2006-07 team had a 9-1 Avocado League record.
“It won’t be another 10 years before we get another one hopefully,” Morrow said.
“The family atmosphere was probably the biggest thing,” said Morrow of his team’s success. “They were able to grow and just kind of mature.”
The Warriors had only three seniors on their 2016-17 roster: Jay Boston, Molly Jones, and Madi Williams. Since Morrow had 14 girls on the varsity squad, 11 of those are expected to return for 2017-18.
“It gives us something to look forward to,” said Morrow.
Because Fallbrook was guaranteed a playoff home game as the league champion, sixth-seeded Del Norte played at 11th-seeded Fallbrook in the first round of the CIF Division II playoffs even though the Nighthawks were the higher seed.
Del Norte had hosted Fallbrook in a Jan. 13 non-league game which preceded Valley League play for the Warriors and Palomar League competition for the Nighthawks. Del Norte prevailed by a 45-39 margin in a game Fallbrook played without point guard Cali Southwell.
“We went in fairly confident that we could compete with Del Norte, and we did,” said Morrow. “The girls came out ready to play.”
The Feb. 21 playoff game ended as a 48-43 Del Norte victory.
“It was a fairly even match for us,” said Morrow. “It was a pretty well-played basketball game on both sides.”
Del Norte senior Jessica Camerino scored 18 points in the Jan. 13 game, but the Lady Warriors held Camerino to seven points in the playoff contest.
“I thought the girls played extremely well,” said Morrow.
That included Sara Ahmadpour, who was playing with a strained groin muscle but still scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.
The win in Fallbrook wouldn’t be Del Norte’s only playoff road victory as the Nighthawks traveled to third-seeded Calexico for a Feb. 24 quarterfinal and defeated the Bulldogs by a 45-36 margin.
The first-round playoff game finalized Fallbrook’s overall season record at 12-12.
“I certainly would have loved to have won the game, but I have no complaints about the way we finished the season,” said Morrow. “I’m very, very happy with the way our girls competed and the way our season ended.”