Spuds Repeat as League Champions
March 25, 2012
The Ojai Valley School girls’ basketball team capped its undefeated season last week by beating Laguna Blanca 18-15 in the championship game of the C.A.L. tournament.
The middle school team finished the regular season 8-0 and went into the tournament as the number-one seed. During the semifinal game against St. Raphael, sixth-graders Gracie Ballou and Emily Burns lead the Spuds in scoring and the team cruised to a 23-5 victory. The win set up a rematch with the second seeded team, Laguna Blanca.
Earlier in the regular season, Laguna and OVS played a hard-fought game with the Spuds coming out on top 13-11. The championship game, played at Bishop Diego High School in Santa Barbara, went the same way.
The Owls jumped out to a 4-0 lead before eighth-grader Georgia Ballou hit a driving lay-up and 10-foot jump shot to even the score. The first half was a seesaw affair, ending in an 8-6 lead for the Spuds. Laguna took the lead by three points late in the 4th quarter, but Georgia, who carried the team on her shoulders, scored on a 15-foot jump shot and then went coast-to-coast after a steal to put the Spuds up by one point.
Eighth-grader Erin Rush powered in an offensive rebound to give OVS a three-point lead, which proved to be the winning margin. After two defensive stands, the buzzer went off and the Spuds were crowned C.A.L. champions for a second straight year.
“This championship is very special, even though we went back to back, not one girl from last year’s team was on this year’s team,” Coach Greg Blessing said. "Our girls set a goal at the beginning of the season, and it was to win our last game. The last game happened to be for the championship. I am very proud of the girls for their dedication, hard work and focus.”
Blessing also cited the defensive efforts of Gracie Ballou, Emily Burns and Sarah Finch for their relentless rebounding and on-the-ball defense. Georgia Ballou was named MVP of the league and tournament, while sister Gracie Ballou and Erin Rush were named to the all-tournament team.