Monday, March 27, 2023

Lady Bears battle but fall to No. 1 seed

Pierce’s Jocelyn Medina led the Bears into the state championship for the second year in a row.

A tough draw in the 2023 CIF State Girls Championships seeded Pierce No. 8 in Division IV, and although the Bears registered a 55-52 first round win over No. 9 East Union (Manteca), they saw their season end in a 47-55 loss to No. 1 San Domenico.

Hosting East Union, a Sac-Joaquin Section Division III team on Feb. 28, Pierce withstood a fourth quarter rally by the Lancers to advance to the second round.

Leading the way, as she has for the entire season, Jocelyn Medina poured in 35 points then additionally pulled down 12 rebounds to record her 21st double-double of the year.

Letzy Ambriz, who finished with six points and seven rebounds, along with Cindy Corona, who contributed six points and eight rebounds also played important roles in the outcome.

With the win, Pierce made the trip to San Anselmo on Mar. 2 to face San Domenico, a private high school with approximately 670 students and the defending Division V state champion.

Although San Domenico led by as many as 22 points, Medina sparked a comeback scoring 19 of her game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter.

Still, it wasn’t enough as the Panthers regrouped and ultimately held off the Bears.

No other statistics from the game were available.

Pierce’s Letzy Ambriz, shown in a photo from the D4 section title game, will be one of the key returners for the Bears next year.

For Medina, who has twice led Pierce into the state tournament, it was actually the section title game against Lassen on Feb. 25 that meant a little more, given that she replicated a feat her grandmother also achieved, as she explained.

“Personally, I didn’t ever think I would ever get to play in a final game,” said the four-year starter. “And as upset as I am that we didn’t pull it out, I will be forever grateful that I got the opportunity, just like my grandma did 41 years ago at Pierce High School. The girls and I put a lot of work in this season to get where we are and I am proud of this team for putting up a fight all season.”

Echoing Medina’s sentiments regarding the squad’s effort was her coach, Luis Davalos, who , in his first season at the helm, guided the Bears to an undefeated record in the Sacramento Valley League, an appearance in the section title game, and then into the second round of the state tournament.

“The Lady Bears had a historic season and everyone is proud of them,” said Davalos. “The state games were some of the best experiences we had. It showed that our girls can compete and how special a group we have. The ladies made it easy for me as they were focused and determined to win games.”

While Pierce (27-4), will say goodbye to senior starters Medina, Corona, and Kallie Stassi, it has a group of returners that Davalos hopes to see continue the tradition of competitive and winning basketball.

“I can’t wait for next season to see what this young and talented core is capable of doing,” Davalos said.■

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