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Del Oro girls make it look easy, again

Golden Eagles gear up for clash with St. Mary's in final
By: Sara Seyydin Journal Staff Writer
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STOCKTON — The Golden Eagles have landed. With a sweeping 66-37 victory over the El Camino High in Wednesday’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal, the Del Oro girls basketball team not only proved it was superior to the team with its namesake, but it will be playing for the Division II championship Saturday at Power Balance Pavilion. The win set up a much-anticipated showdown with No. 1 seed St. Mary’s of Stockton in the title game. The Rams routed Bella Vista 76-32 Wednesday night in Stockton. No. 2 seeded Del Oro (24-3) has had eagle eyes on a section title since the start of the season. Their impenetrable full-court press and nifty passing game gave the Golden Eagles the lead against No. 4 seeded El Camino (28-1) early in University of the Pacific’s Spanos Center. Del Oro had a 23-9 lead after the first quarter and never lost it. While El Camino is known for its strong transition game, Del Oro coach Mike Takayama said his team came prepared. “They are known as the running team,” Takayama said. “But we were able to take over. We were firing on all cylinders.” The Golden Eagles’ well-oiled machine was fueled by sophomore Brianna Ruiz who had 17 points and eight rebounds. Senior Madeline Campbell who led Del Oro in scoring assaulted El Camino’s defense with 19 more points and nine rebounds for Del Oro. Senior Belle Obert led the Golden Eagles in rebounds with 12. Even as El Camino sophomore Courtney Brignac put up a fight, leading the Eagles (28-2) with 14 points and five rebounds, the Del Oro girls’ size and fundamental game won out. They sealed their bid to the newly dubbed Power Balance Pavilion in front of a crowd of fans from Loomis. “They probably played the best they have all year,” said longtime Del Oro fan Larry Elliot. “They had a pressure defense and took their game up a notch, which is the kind of playing they will need against St. Mary’s.” The Golden Eagles left the court knowing they had accomplished what they set out to do this season. Ruiz said she was excited for the win and the chance to play in Division II final. Takayama said that while they may not be playing at Arco Arena technically speaking, since the name of the building that will host the championships changed to Power Balance Pavilion last week, he is proud of what his team has accomplished. “We have been saying Arco is our big goal all year,” Takayama said. “St. Mary’s has been the team to beat and they were in Division III last year and now are moved to Division II along with us. Maybe it’s fate. I like our chances.” Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com.