Varsity girls win basketball tournament
Last updated 1/4/2007 at Noon
Fallbrook High School’s girls basketball team won the Banning Kiwanis Tournament played December 18-21 in Banning Gymnasium.
The Warriors won all four of their games in the tournament, including the championship game December 21 against La Quinta. Fallbrook forward Tiffany Hunter, who scored 81 points in the four games and had at least ten rebounds in three of those games, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“We worked hard on getting good shot selection,” said Fallbrook coach Len Whitacre, who also noted that the Warriors were a tough defensive team.
Fallbrook began the tournament with a 79-23 win over Cathedral City. Hunter scored 23 points and added 16 rebounds, Kaitlyn Gangnath had 19 points along with five assists, and Marshai Iverson tallied 18 points and eight rebounds.
The Warriors had two games in pool play, and the second was a 73-35 victory December 19 against Linfield. Hunter scored 20 points while hauling down 15 rebounds, Gangnath complemented 21 points with six assists, and Iverson produced 15 points with eight rebounds.
Fallbrook’s semifinal match was against Summit of Fontana on December 20. Summit had a 30-25 lead at halftime. “They outplayed us in the first half,” Whitacre said. “A very physical team, a lot of height.”
Fallbrook ended the third quarter with a 37-36 lead and had a 52-46 cushion when the final buzzer sounded. Hunter had 21 points and 12 rebounds against Summit while Iverson had 13 points, six rebounds, and seven blocked shots.
The finals against La Quinta resulted in a 53-29 Fallbrook victory. “The tougher team was in the semis,” Whitacre said.
While Whitacre felt that La Quinta was in an easier bracket, he still noted the ability of the team to reach the finals. “They were real scrappy and had shot the ball well in the tournament, and we just tried to keep their shooters from getting the ball,” he said.
Hunter led the offense with 17 points against La Quinta while Iverson had 11 points. Emily Armstrong had 8 points with 14 rebounds.
Armstrong, who had come off the bench for all four tournament games as well as Fallbrook’s five previous games, had two tournament games of eight points and one of seven points. “She was spectacular,” Whitacre said.
Fallbrook won the tournament despite three of the 14 players on the roster not participating due to injury. “We’ve not been at full strength yet, but we have a pretty nice rotation in terms of roles and we’re very deep,” Whitacre said.
The four tournament wins gave Fallbrook an 8-1 record. “We’re very lucky to have six seniors,” said Whitacre, who had no seniors during his first year with Fallbrook in the 2004-05 season.
One of those seniors is Hunter, who proved herself to those selecting the all-tournament team. “Tiffany’s a complete basketball player,” Whitacre said. “She worked very hard in the off-season to come into this season in better physical condition than she was last year and to shoot the ball better and to handle the ball better.”
The tournament gave Hunter a season average of 18.2 points per game, 11.1 rebounds per game, 4.2 steals per game, and 2.7 assists per game. Iverson, who missed the first game due to a knee injury and played sparingly in the next four games, improved her scoring average to 9.9 points per game. Gangnath, whose 19 three-point baskets for the first nine games gave her 40 percent accuracy from behind the arc, improved her scoring average to 13.4 points per game and 3.7 assists per game.
Iverson and Armstrong are also seniors, as are Brooke Harlin, Natalie Zepeda, and Marina Schroeder. Schroeder played in the team’s first game, but a toe injury kept her out of subsequent games including the tournament.
Iverson’s injury, along with a 7-for-24 performance at the free throw line, led to a 43-29 loss at Helix to open the season November 27, but the tournament championship gave Fallbrook an eight-game winning streak. Other than a 63-61 win December 2 over West Hills, the tournament semifinal against Summit, and the 24-point win over La Quinta, all of those wins have been by at least 30 points.