(Walnut, CA) The Mt. SAC Women's Basketball Team has started the season with three consecutive wins, culminating with a championship in the 24th Annual Linda G. Smith Tip-Off Classic, defeating Rio Hondo, 66-62 Sunday (Nov. 3).
The championship was the 13th in the last 16 years for the Mounties, who are currently ranked fourth by the California Community College Women's Basketball Coaches Association South Region Preseason Poll (10-30).
It was the second consecutive year that the South Coast Conference rivals have met in the title game, with Rio Hondo defeating the Mounties in 2018.
"The girls were a little fired up about last years' loss, especially the ones that played here and the new girls hearing about it," Mt. SAC Women's coach Brian Crichlow said. "We're doing some things here and I think we're back on track as a program with good kids who really understand the Mt. SAC way."
The 2019-20 team has 11 freshmen and four returning sophomores on the team.
"We have a very young team and this is the type of game that you want your young team to mature and grow from," Crichlow said. "A lot of freshmen made some big plays and were in the mix at crunch time. They stepped up and what better place to grow up than in a championship game in your own tournament against a formidable opponent."
Leading the way for the Mounties was sophomore forward Remy Hare, as she was named tournament Most Valuable Player.
"(Hare) has been special all weekend and her confidence is rising and rising and rising," Crichlow said. "I'm really happy with her maturation and just her drive to get better and do the right things."
Hare mad a crucial layup as she was knocked to the floor and completed the three-point play to give the Mounties a 61-56 lead with 1:20 left in the game.
"That's awesome that coach B said that about me," said Hare of Crichlow. "He's made me really tough, physically and mentally. At the next level nothing could ever bother me now."
"I was really stoked and I knew I was going to make that free throw."
Also named to the All-Tournament team was freshman guard Hope Kakihara.
"Hope did a fantastic job and she controlled the tempo and the flow and made plays when she needed to," Crichlow said. "We have a three-headed monster at the guard spot, in Alexis (Sanchez) and Aujane (Mayes). When we put them in there we just have so much leadership on the floor."
Kakihara scored 16 points in the three games, but was most valuable running the floor along with Sanchez and Mayes.
"We came into this tournament knowing we had a lot of talent," Kakihara said. "I really enjoy being one of the leaders at point guard and I especially enjoy playing defense. We knew we would face (Rio Hondo) in the championship and we pulled through."
"I try to put 100% hustle when I'm out there and I wasn't expecting it (All-Tournament)."
Mt. SAC started the tourney with a 68-54 win over San Diego Mesa in the opening game Friday
(Nov. 1). Hare, who has come all the way back from injuries and has improved her game greatly, scored a career-high 21 points (8-10 FGM, 4-4 FTM, 4 RB). Freshman guard Taylor Shelby added 11 points (5-11 FGM, 3 RB).
"After coming off that knee injury and sitting out last year and for her (Shelby) to be able to play three games and play the way she did and compete, she just gave us some more firepower," Crichlow added.
Shelby averaged nine points in the three games.
"I just think it was very impactful for me to sit out last year and just watch how they played," Shelby said. "It's made me hungrier to get out there and play this year. I watched us lose last year against Rio Hondo and I knew we had to come out strong."
In the second game, the Mounties thoroughly dominated Citrus from the opening tip-off and won going away, 82-32.
Freshman guard Mina Guevera-Goss scored a game-high 20 points (7-12 FGM, 3 3PM, 3-4 FTM, 6 RB), while Hare contributed 18 points (7-15 FGM, 4-4 FTM, 3 RB). Shelby added 10 points for the Mounties.
"The game is a lot more intense (from high school) and I'm happy about my performance, but I just want to stay focused," Guever-Goss said.
In the championship game against Rio Hondo, Mt. SAC built up a 10-point, 20-10 lead after the opening quarter, but the Roadrunners reversed the scoring in the second quarter and led at the half, 31-30.
In an unusual start to the second half, the Roadrunners were called for an administrative error in the scorebook and Hare sank a free throw before the third quarter began with the technical.
By early in the third quarter, the Mounties built up their biggest lead of the game, leading by 11 points, 53-42.
Rio Hondo, however, came crawling back into the game and trailed, 56-54, with 3:00 remaining in the fourth quarter. Hare was fouled and sank two free throws to lead, 58-54.
The Mounties played Rio Hondo even the rest of the game to come away with the win.
Mt. SAC takes a couple weeks off before traveling to Moorpark College Friday (Nov. 15) to take on the Raiders in a nonconference game. Moorpark is currently ranked No. 1 in the South Region.
Follow Mt. SAC Women's Basketball on twitter @MtSAC_WBKB
For additional information, please contact the Mt. SAC Sports Information Office at 909.274.4630.