By Wil Keepers,

The Lions Varsity Girls were due for a let-down after two consecutive tight games against Fall River and Etna in the Northern Section semi-finals and finals.  After jumping out to a 19-4 lead in a strong first quarter, the Lions finally did show a bit of wear and tear, but the Lions held on for a convincing 53-26 victory over the 8 seed Calistoga (15-11) in the first round of the Norcal State Tournament.

The Lions defense smothered the Wildcats in the first three quarters, holding them to 4 in the first quarter and 6 in the second and 4 in the 3rd, but after a first quarter outburst of 19 in the first quarter, the Lions offense tailed off a bit.  It was clear after 1 quarter that while the Wildcats played hard and had no quit in them, they were going to have a hard time matching up with the aggressiveness of Redding Christian, and when the game seemed in hand, the Lions offense stagnated.  The Lions ran a motion offense, and over the last three quarters had several shot clock violations or bad shots or turnovers on the offensive end.  But even when their offense stagnated, their defense remained strong and the Wildcats never seriously threatened.

Sammie Wunner led the team with 21 points and 9 rebounds, while Aleah Matos scored 11, and Sadie Alexander scored 10.  The Lions (27-3) will face 5 seed Forest Lake Christian of Auburn, who upset #4 California School for the Deaf 52-50 last night.  On the other side of the Norcal Bracket, #2 Etna crushed Credo 79-45 and advanced to the semifinal, and #3 Valley Christian and #6 Laytonville were delayed by weather and play their quarterfinal game tonight, with the winner facing Etna Saturday.