Lady Dogs sputter in season finale loss to NCS-bound Acalanes

Martinez Tribune

Two teams at different ends of the spectrum met on Friday, Feb. 19. One team, Acalanes, was playoff-bound with a high seed coming. Alhambra, however, was just hoping they could end the season with a positive showing.

As has been the case most of the season, someone somewhere had decided there would be no consolation victories for Alhambra this year.

In a season with injuries and tough losses, why would it end any other way than a 65-25 loss?

There were very few bright spots this season, but one that coach Jason Bautista will hang his hat on is the emergence senior guard Ali Najera had in her final month as a Bulldog.

The senior has spent three years at the varsity level, but not until this year was she a regular starter. Even then, she didn’t feature a lot into the team’s plan of attack.

But with the injury to junior Karissa Wiebalk, the inexperienced team needed senior leadership.

Najera went from occasionally playing the point guard role, to owning it at the end of the season. She became the team’s number one threat from beyond the arc.

Even on a night when Alhambra could only muster 25 points of offense, her six points in the first half paced the Bulldog girls as she knocked down two 3-pointers in the early stages of the game.

Those two shots were the only two field goals by an Alhambra player until 4:39 left to go in the second quarter.

In the second half, another upperclassmen who saw her role from last season increased, went off.

After only scoring once in the first half, junior Alanis Lara single-handedly led the Dogs with nine points in the second half.
Only senior Cara DiMercurio also made a field goal in the second half.

Acalanes threatened to build a lead as large as 40 all night so that referees would have to start a running clock. With 3:27 left in the third quarter they nearly did, were it not for Lara’s efforts from behind the arc.

But in the end the eventual number two seed in the Division II playoffs were just too talented for Alhambra to deal with – a phrase all too familiar to anyone who has watched the Bulldogs play in Diablo Foothill Athletic League action.

When a team like fourth place Acalanes can earn a second seed in the playoffs, you know it’s going to be a long year.

Miramonte earned a number one seed in Division III play, while Division I Dublin earned a number four seed. Campolindo won a number three seed in the Division III playoffs.

Dougherty Valley was the only team in the top five in the DFAL to not earn a top four seed. They came in at number 10 in Division I.

The Lady Dogs finished their season at 5-18, and 2-10 in DFAL play, which earned them a sixth place finish in the league. A small consolation in a season where there has been little to write home about.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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