Citrus Women's Basketball competed in the Southern California Regional Playoffs last night at host Cerritos College. The Owls fell just short of a 2nd round appearance with a well fought 61-72 loss.
Citrus came off of one of its best regular season campaigns since the late 2000's, going 18-11 overall and finishing a solid #2 in the WSC East with a 7-3 mark. The Owls played one of the toughest preseason schedules in SoCal this season, burning through the field with a solid 11-7 record.
Probably the most significant factor in the team's success was the relentless execution of the team-first philosophy of Head Coach Linnae Barber Matthews and her Assistant Coaches Melissa Gillard and Greg Dinneen. The squad developed a special bond that that was evident not only in their style of play, but off the court and in the classroom as well. The team's mantra, "Believe" was applied not only with teaching student-athletes to believe in themselves, but each other, the team, the coaches, and the system. The team succeeded in a major way on that front, setting the example for their peers on other teams, and establishing a rekindled tradition of winning for Women's Basketball at Citrus.
The student-athletes on this team excelled on the court and in the classroom, with 7 of 9 rostered players achieving Scholar Baller honors, an award given to student-student-athletes who achieve a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Women's Basketball led the way for all other variety teams at Citrus, landing 78% of their players on the honoree list.
In Wednesday's game at Cerritos, the Owls played their hearts out, going to battle against a team with a deeper bench, and better in many statistical categories. But that didn't slow the Owls down. Citrus put up a great fight, surging late in the game and giving Cerritos a run for their money. But the late rally was a bit too late, and Cerritos was able to hang on to the lead and take the game, moving on to round two of playoffs.
Sharp shooter Diana Navarro led the way offensively for Citrus, dropping 26 points on the night, beating her season best of 21 back in November against San Diego City College. Navarro drained 5 threes, also a season high for the guard. Owl offensive leader Kyannie Brown recorded 14 points in the effort, grabbing 11 rebounds as well. Malia Rocha scored 11 off the bench; and Keely Wall, one of the best rebounders in the state, snagged 11 boards and scored 8 points.
The Owls will go into the offseason looking to fill the void of a large sophomore class. With just 3 returning freshmen, Coach Barber Matthews and her staff will undoubtedly hit the recruiting trail hard to bolster their roster and continue the winning ways into next year.
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