BASKETBALL: Cougars eke out 47-46 victory over Spartans, claim sole possession of first

Christopher's Hanna Tabron and Cydney Caradonna (11) work to

Hanna Tabron scored 30 points and pulled down eight offensive rebounds on her way to a career-first triple-double Friday night as the Christopher High Cougars slipped past Seaside 47-46 to claim sole possession of first place in the Monterey Bay League girls’ basketball standings.

Freshman Olivia Tabron clinched the win for Christopher with a shot block with four seconds to play.

The win pushed coach Heather Stewart’s team to 7-1, while the Spartans dropped to 6-2 in MBL play.

“Normally, we have a good balance of inside and outside game,” said Stewart. “It was a bit of a struggle early for Olivia in the post, but Hanna picked up a little extra work. Even though Seaside started face-guarding Hanna, she has the ability to see the scoring lanes.”

The Spartans shook off a 14-2 deficit after 6:26 of play to finish the first half down nine at 23-14 by scoring the final seven points.

Seaside had 23 turnovers in the first half, then settled down to commit just five turnovers in the final 16 minutes on the Christopher court. While the Spartans posted a 13-6 edge in field goals made in the final half, the visitors could not stop Hanna Tabron’s march to the basket.

The junior floor leader finished with seven field goals and a 16-for-21 performance at the free throw line.

“We hadn’t been doing well on free throws earlier this season, but we’ve put a lot of work into it lately,” said the scoring leader.

“Our defense broke down some to let Seaside back into the game,” she continued. “We were able to keep our composure, though. Even when we’d make a mistake on offense, we’d get back and play defense.”

Stewart lauded the defensive work of senior guard Haylee Peterson.

“Haylee just wants to play defense,” the coach said. “She asked for the biggest assignment on defense, and she responded by keeping Tori Dorn to five points. Tori is usually good for 20 a game. Haylee’s a very unselfish player.”

Seaside turned the ball over six times in the first 2:02 of play to allow the Cougars to move out to the 14-2 edge with 1:34 left in the first period.

The Tabron duo netted the first 11 points of the contest for the Cougars before Dejah Raoof produced a three-point play off a Hanna Tabron pass.

Seaside rallied for a two-point field goal by Marlene Rose and a three-point field goal from Dixon to leave the score 14-7 entering the second period. Hanna Tabron accounted for all nine Christopher points in the second period.

The Spartans settled down in the second half, firing 13 more shots from the floor than Christopher.. The Cougars held a 34-33 lead after three periods when the Spartans were solid at 8-for-18 from the field while the hosts were just 3-for-16.

Sabrina Neal turned an offensive rebound into a layup with 45 seconds gone in the fourth to give the Spartans their only lead, 35-34. Hanna Tabron excelled at the line with six consecutive free throws as the Cougars moved out to a 42-37 lead.

After Hanna Tabron’s power drive to a layup gave Christopher a 46-39 lead with 2:05 left, Seaside outscored the hosts 7-1 in the closing two minutes.

“When we needed to clamp down defensively in those two minutes, we did,” said Stewart. “Even though Olivia was frustrated on offense early, she stepped up with a big defensive play for us.”

The Spartans pulled within one at 47-46 when Iyana Mason hit a layup with 24 seconds to go. The Cougars missed two free throws with 14 seconds to play before the Spartans were turned back on their final possession. Neal’s 20-foot jumper was slapped away by Olivia Tabron.

“Christopher’s a good team,” said Seaside coach Jim Mirando. “We were nervous early, spotting them the big lead, but we came back. We had a chance at the end to win. It was a good game to coach.”

Olivia Tabron finished with eight points and six rebounds. Mason paced the Spartans with 12 points.

The junior varsity Cougars also won Friday night, 42-33.

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