The Chargers took control right from the start, and left nothing to chance on Friday night by pulling off their most dominating victory - in their biggest game of the year - with a 58-28 rout of the Pirates at Peterson Gym in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Freshmen Sama Soria (14 points, 4 rebounds) and Sloan Turner (12 points, 7 rebounds) helped lead Cypress to its fourth Orange Empire Conference crown in school history, and third under head coach Margaret Mohr.
After winning their first women's basketball league championship in 1988, the Chargers went through an 18-year title drought, before capturing a second conference crown in 2006 - the season following Cypress College's first CCCAA state championship in women's basketball. Three year's later, Mohr's Chargers were at it again with an OEC championship in 2009. Right on schedule in 2012, Cypress finished atop the league standings once again after another three-year hietis from the OEC title chase.
The Chargers came ready to play at both ends of the court on Friday, in a wire-to-wire victory that began with Chelsea Walton scoring the first five points of the game. Walton knocked down a three to open the scoring, then connected on a pair of free throws to put Cypress up 5-0. Tera Salhus chipped in with a bucket to make it a 7-0 contest before Coast found its first basket of the night.
OCC made it 9-4 with 13:14 left to play in the first half, but couldn't score again on Cypress' suffocating press for more than eight minutes after that, as the Charger defense clamped down on the Pirates with a 10-1 run that made it a 19-5 game. With time running down, Turner hit a buzzer-beating jumper to close out an 11-5 Cypress run, and send the Chargers into halftime with a commanding 30-10 lead over Coast.
Coming out of the break, the two squads traded baskets for much of the second half. Sophomore captain Donna Ka' anoi hit a layup with 15 minutes on the clock to put the Chargers up by 21 points. Ten minutes later, Walton found Breanna Patton cutting to the basket for a layup that stretched Cypress' lead to 51-26. With less than a minute on the clock, Doreen Lopez hit a couple of free throws to close out the scoring for Cypress College, and secure a decisive 30-point victory over Orange Coast to gear up for another run to the Final Four.
Cypress College's sister school, Fullerton College, made it an All North Orange County OEC Championship after beating Irvine Valley 68-40 at home on Friday. The Chargers and Hornets will share 2012 Orange Empire Conference Co-Championship honors after each finished the regular season tied with identical 10-2 records in league play.
When the CCCAA playoff matchups are announced on Monday afternoon, Cypress College will earn the higher seed over Fullerton College, after sweeping the Hornets in two regular season meetings this year.
The Chargers playoff bracket and first round matchup will be posted on the Cypress College women's basketball homepage: http://www.cypresscollege.edu/wbasketball on Monday afternoon, and will be posted on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/cypresschargers ... and Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/cypresschargers first.