STOCKTON — Lauren Sende didn’t let a head cold get in the way of a stellar performance for her Oak Ridge High girls basketball team.
The 6-foot-2 Westmont College-bound senior forward recorded a double-double of 20 points and 22 rebounds — including 11 boards in the fourth quarter — and scored the go-ahead basket with 5:30 left to lead the Lady Trojans to a 63-52 win over the Armijo in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinals Tuesday afternoon at the Spanos Center on the University of the Pacific campus.
The victory sends No. 6 Oak Ridge back to the D-I finals for its second trek in three seasons.Troy will face No. 4 Kennedy at Power Balance Pavilion in a rematch of the 2010 section championship game Oak Ridge won.
Prior to Tuesday, Oak Ridge was already guaranteed an automatic NorCal berth. A victory over Kennedy locks up a first-round home game next week.
Sende’s go-ahead basket inside the paint gave the Trojans (23-7) a 47-46 lead. She followed up with an elbow jumper to extend Oak Ridge’s lead to 49-46 before Jenn Hoffman added some comfort room with a three-pointer for a six-point lead.
Aside from scoring, Sende pulled down 11 rebounds in the final eight minutes.
“I’ve been sick all week,” said Sende whose voice sounded rough. “I knew I had to push through for my team because we knew No. 30 (Indian forward Melaya Gaines) was really aggressive on the boards. I knew in the last minute (of the game) we wanted to get to (Power Balance Pavilion). That was our goal the entire time.”
Gaines (six rebounds) scored four of her 13 points early in the fourth quarter but Sende dominated Gaines’ throughout the quarter and most of the game. Oak Ridge enjoyed a height advantage on Armijo.
“Coming into the game, I didn’t think about the height advantage whatsoever,” Sende said.
Oak Ridge finished with 37 rebounds while Armijo grabbed 21 boards.
“If we rebound, we’re pretty tough,” Oak Ridge coach Stephen White said. “They got to remember how this feels and get back and do it on Saturday.”
Oak Ridge led 43-42 going to the fourth thanks to a quarter-closing three-pointer by Nikki Dow. Gaines knocked down two shots to open the quarter to retake the lead before Sende hit the permanent go-ahead shot.
“Nikki has been doing that for us all year as far as giving us a left,” White said of Dow. “In big games she’s come up big.”
White said Sende should be given a “verbal” assist toward Dow’s trey.
“She may have had an assist (Sende swung the ball out to Dow who was standing over the arc near the wing) but it was the verbal assist that she said ‘shoot it, shoot it,’” White joked.
White felt Sende’s performance while battling a head cold spoke volumes.
“She’s always had great footwork,” White said of Sende. “She’s very focused. Tonight it just came all together. That’s her most complete game and she picked a great time to have it. Now the question is we’re going to challenge her to duplicate that (Saturday against Kennedy).”
The Trojans led 27-24 at halftime, and 15-9 after the first quarter. Senior Jenna Klein scored six of her 14 points off treys in the second quarter.
“Our threes were going in,” Klein said. “Rebounding was key. I think our shots were falling and we were just being confident.”
Behind Sende and Klein, Haley Anderson scored nine points, Hoffman seven, Michelle Barkley six, Dow three, senior forward Katie Hoisington and Alyssa Ramona had two each.
For Amrijo, Marshanique Hall had 16 points followed by Gaines and Chloe Dawkins with 10.
Tipoff for Saturday’s section title game is 6:30 p.m.