By Nick Giannandrea
College of the Sequoias' women's basketball team is headed back to the postseason.
The Giants will make an eighth straight trip to the California Community College Athletic Association's Northern California Regionals after receiving the 11th seed when the 18-team playoff bracket was announced Feb. 23.
COS (19-9) is set to open against No. 6 Sierra (20-7) on Feb. 28 in Rocklin. Tip-off time has yet to be announced.
"I didn't see them play this year, but we've played them in the past," Giants coach Ray Alvarado said. "Their kids play hard. And it's tough going to their place, but I like where we are right now."
The COS/Sierra winner advances to face the winner between No. 3 Butte (22-6) and No. 14 Yuba (17-7) on March 7 at the gym of the best remaining seed. The winner of that game reaches the state's Elite Eight tournament, scheduled for March 12, 14-15 at West Hills-Lemoore.
Sierra finished third in the Big 8 Conference behind state top-ranked San Joaquin Delta (27-1) and No. 5 Diablo Valley (21-5). The Wolverines, who are ranked 11th in the state by the California Community College Women's Basketball Coaches' Association, have been led by Shanel Jamison (18.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game), Aycee Willis (14.3 ppg), Kailee McCarrick (11.7 ppg, 3.7 apg) and Jessie Armstrong (10.6 ppg, 6.0 rpg). Sierra is averaging 76.2 points per game while shooting 40.1 percent from the field and 31.6 percent beyond the 3-point arc.
The Giants tuned up for the postseason with a 63-41 victory over West Hills-Lemoore (9-19, 5-7) on Feb. 21 that helped them finish tied for second in the Central Valley Conference with Fresno City.
It was the sixth time in their past eight games that the Giants have held an opponent to fewer than 50 points.
"I think they are doing a really good job defensively," Alvarado said. "They are paying attention to detail, which is very important at this time of the season."
Sapphire Jones (Hanford High) scored six of her team-high 14 points in the first quarter as COS jumped out to a 23-11 lead. Jones also had seven rebounds and two steals.
In her likely final home game for COS, sophomore Alaysia Reed (Las Vegas) had 11 points, eight rebounds, five assists, three steals and two blocks. Fellow sophomore Elyssa Brumfield (Golden Valley-Bakersfield) contributed five points, seven rebounds and two steals.
The Giants also received nine points, three assists and three steals from McKenna Hsiung (Bakersfield); eight points and five rebounds from Felicia Ramirez (Caruthers); five points and 10 rebounds from Serena Ybarra (Coalinga); and seven points from Clarissa Chavez (Redwood).
"Offensively, some of our players are starting to find their groove," Alvarado said. "I'm pleased with their collective efforts."
The Giants have reached the state quarterfinals in four of the past five seasons, including three straight trips. COS lost 66-58 to Moorpark in the quarterfinals last season.
COS' conference rivals Merced and Fresno City also were selected to the NorCal Regionals.
The CVC champion Blue Devils (23-5) were seeded fifth and will host No. 12 Folsom Lake (16-12) on Feb. 28. The 13th-seeded Rams (16-11) play at No. 4 Chabot (22-6) on Feb. 29.