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Visalia-based College of the Sequoias has the third-ranked junior college women's basketball team in the state of California, and the unbeaten Giants did little Saturday to sully that rating.

Forcing 19 turnovers and looking unfazed by Hancock College's match-up defense, the Giants forged a 35-15 halftime lead.

The Bulldogs were much better on offense in the second half, but COS came away with a 71-54 win over the host team at Hancock's Joe White Memorial Gymnasium in the championship game of the 20th annual Lady Bulldog Classic.

"Our offense got going a half too late," said Hancock coach Cary Nerelli.

"It took awhile for us to adjust to that (defensive) pressure. It's such great experience for our team to play against that kind of pressure."

The Giants moved to 14-0. The Bulldogs are 6-4.

Shae Sanchez, a 5-foot-9 freshman forward from Riverside, was the tournament MVP. She led balanced Giants' scoring with 15 points.

All 13 Giants scored. Zharia McCollum put in 10 points for COS.

Hancock point guard Taylor Lee-Hammer scored 19 of her game high 22 points in the second half.

The sophomore hit 6 of her 12 shots from the field, including two from 3-point range. She also went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line.

Grace Rosa, who had 10 of Hancock's 15 first-half points, finished with 20. The Paso Robles High School graduate made nine of her 11 shots from the field and 2-of-3 from the line.

Karly Beyers added six points, six rebounds and four assists.

Both of them made the All-Tournament Team. So did MaRazelle Quicio of COS, Kacey Cain of College of the Siskiyous and Holly Barrera of Santa Barbara City College.

Brianna Rubalcaba got the ball inside to Rosa for two quick second half baskets and Lee-Hammer worked her way inside for scores as the Bulldogs made some small second-half runs.

Hancock drew within 40-25 in the third quarter and 59-46 with 4:10 left in the fourth. However, Sanchez had an answer both times.

She completed an old-fashioned three-point play after the Bulldogs drew within 40-25. After Lee-Hammer made two free throws to get Hancock within 59-46, Sanchez nailed a 3-point shot.

Hancock wound up with 30 turnovers. COS had only three in the first half and 10 for the game.

Still, "For our team to compete with a team like that the way we did in the second half shows the character our kids have," said Nerelli.

"We have a deep team," said COS coach Ray Alvarado. "We didn't play a good second half, but coach (Nerelli) has a good team.

"It was a good win."

College of the Siskiyous dominated L.A. Harbor 77-58 in the third-place game. Siskiyous improved to 9-2 behind 26 points and 12 rebounds from Kacey Cain. Nichelle Lafoon added 18 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles. Kristina Brown led Harbor (7-7) with 25 points and eight boards, while Kristy Takahashi poured in 19 points.

In the consolation championship, Santa Barbara City College knocked off Cuesta 54-43 to earn fifth place. Courtney Barba led the Cougars with 26 points. Hannah Rogers led the Vaqueros with 21 points, while Aaliyah Pauling and Holly Barrera added 12 points apiece.

Hancock will play in the Monterey Tournament this Thursday through Saturday.


Sports Reporter