AMERICAN CANYON — Despite losing a hard-fought Vine Valley Athletic League Tournament girls basketball final to second-seeded Casa Grande Friday night at American Canyon High, 41-37, Vintage is looking forward to the start of CIF North Coast Section postseason play next week.

Seeded No. 1 in the VVAL Tournament by virtue of their outright regular-season championship, the Crushers (20-7) – whose only pre-tournament VVAL loss was also to the Gauchos (18-9) – will now set their sights on getting their program’s first section playoff win since 2002.

“We have nothing to hang our heads about,” observed Vintage head coach Joe Donohoe. “We’re still the league champs and we’ll possibly be hosting a home game next week.”

The Crushers will learn their fate when seeding for the NCS playoffs takes place Sunday morning.

Alyssa Andrews, who led Vintage with 11 points, acknowledged it was a disappointing loss.

“We were looking to win the rubber match with them,” the senior said, “but we didn’t account for their outside shooting.”

Andrews was referring to Casa Grande’s sharp-shooting Samantha Dedrickson, who led all scorers with 14 points – including four long 3-pointers. Vintage was also unable to capitalize on its vaunted fast-break offense, although the Crushers led by as much as three points in the fourth quarter.

“Our girls were ready to go, but something was a little off tonight,” admitted Donohoe, referring no doubt to the 17 uncharacteristic turnovers by Vintage in the first half.

But the Crushers showed no quit, by coming back and putting themselves in position to win the contest in the second half.

Nicole Gleeson had eight points and four rebounds for Vintage, Kate Ilsley had seven points and eight rebounds, Morgan Groves had six points and eight rebounds, Maya Sapienza had three points and six rebounds, and Eden Wood chipped in two points.

The game began in nightmare fashion for the Crushers, however, as they were down 11-3 after the first quarter. In the second quarter, Vintage was quickly down by eight before it started to show flashes of the team that had 20 wins coming into the night. After baskets by Groves, Wood and Gleeson, Andrews drained a 3-pointer to cut the margin to just four at halftime, 18-14.

Ilsley nailed a long three to begin the third quarter in promising fashion for Vintage. After a couple of nifty hoops by Gleeson, including an old-school, right-handed hook off an inbounds play, the Crushers were up by one after three quarters and poised to bring home the win.

But Dedrickson had the last word for Casa Grande, nailing a trio of treys in the final quarter to put the first-ever trophy for VVAL Tournament champs in the Gauchos’ hands.

“We came up a little short tonight, but we’re not done by a long stretch,” emphasized Donohoe. “I’m hoping this game will motivate us and we’ll be back in the gym tomorrow.”

Andrews said the postseason, which begins Tuesday or Wednesday, will be especially motivating for herself and the other seniors on Vintage.

“I’m looking forward to our next game,” she said, “because we’re down to our last games ever in high school and we want to go out on a good note.”

Vintage’s most recent section playoff win was a 52-48 home victory over Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills on Feb. 9, 2002.

Andy Wilcox contributed to this story.

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