The coach provided the motivation, and ‘Fish’ delivered last Friday at Selland Arena.
That would be Caruthers High head coach Anna Almeida who has had trouble getting her players to take charge on the court; and, senior guard Felicia ‘Fish’ Ramírez, who made 7-of-11 shots and scored 18 points to lead the Lady Toads to a 56-44 win over Coalinga High for the CIF Central Section Division V championship.
Their reward is a No. 3 seed in the Northern California Division V playoffs. Caruthers will host 14th-seeded Woodland Christian (23-6) at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 26).
Caruthers, 27-4, is a perfect 9-0 at home this season.
Against Coalinga, Caruthers jumped out to a 21-2 lead after the first quarter and never looked back. The lead ballooned to 23 points midway through the second quarter.
Caruthers shot 48.3 percent from the field in the opening half against a Coalinga team that relied heavily on senior guard Serena Ybarra (25 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals).
“Our two seniors are not vocal leaders, and motivate teammates through their play,” said Almeida, a constant presence on the sideline with her yelling directions and plays throughout the game.
The senior were freshmen when other players motivated them on the court, said Almeida, who coached Caruthers to a section title in 2016 when Vieira and teammates Jaque Magaña and Mikayla Durán were freshmen.
For now, Almeida said the team likes a fast-paced game but gets distracted when fouls start to pile up. Ramírez fouled out of the game.
“Her (Ramírez) joy of winning is my biggest excitement,” said Almeida, whose team captured its 16th straight victory. Coalinga, now 25-4, saw its 13-game winning streak snapped.
“This is the best feeling ever,” said Ramírez, who got the Fish nickname from her dad. “I’m happy to see all the other girls excited.”
Ramírez, who will attend Cal Poly and major in biology next year, said it was difficult to slow the game down in the second half as Almeida called for.
“It’s something we’re not used to,” said Ramírez, who made 7-of-11 shots.
Freshman Anna Marshall and sophomore Jacklyn Kulow added 10 points each for the West Sequioa League champions, who owns a win over McFarland High this season.
Coalinga, the West Sierra League champion, also earned a No. 3 seed in the NorCal playoffs and will host Western Christian (19-8) at 7 p.m. Tuesday (Feb. 26).