Immediately following Marina Village’a seventh-grade game last month, the stage was set for another head-to-head, cross town rival game between No. 1 seed the Marina Mustangs (10-0), and the No. 2 seed the Rolling Hills Bengals (8-2).
Marina, last year’s undefeated seventh-grade champions, were on a 25-game league unbeaten streak. However, Coach Virgil Craft for Rolling Hills had a game plan that had Marina questioning their resilience until the final quarter.
Anchored by Rolling Hill’s Nicole Spring and Danielle Craft, the Bengals held the lead after three quarters. In the fourth quarter, Marina’s Saraya Smith and Briana Dulgar aggressively attacked the basket, scoring in the lane, while stopping the clock and getting to the free throw line, which allowed Marina to take the lead.
Some key steals, rebounds and put-backs by Laura Soper, Shelley Hoffman, Sierra Lamy and Allie Dawson shifted the momentum to Marina. However, there was no quit in Rolling Hills. The entire team dove for loose balls, chased errant passes and battled Marina, which had a deeper bench that included Shelby Johnson and Amber Orchard. Marina’s experience and depth was too much for the Bengals to sustain. As time ran out, the Mustangs survived a tremendous effort by Rolling Hills, winning 53-40.
The players, coaches, parents and fans left the court emotionally exhausted after witnessing a championship game that was definitely worth the price of admiss