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CHS girls suffer tough loss after big Rancho comeback

It may be a worn-out cliché, but the Claremont High School girls basketball team found out Tuesday night that it’s not over until it’s over. In a stunning turnaround, Claremont lost to Rancho Cucamonga, 52-50, even though they were up by 12 points at the end of the third quarter and led nearly the entire game.

It certainly was a disappointing way to start the 20th annual Wolfpack Classic girls basketball tournament, which runs through Friday at CHS.

Both teams had their struggles. It seemed the Cougars were called for traveling every other possession but, for the first half, Claremont had much better shooting and developed a commanding lead.

To start the second half, the Cougars switched to a man-to-man coverage on defense that threw Claremont’s game off, according to coach Darryl Kennedy. As a result, Claremont came up empty for their first seven possessions of the third quarter and only got four field goals the entire second half.

“They went man-to-man on us late in the game. We kind of tightened up. We didn’t execute the way we needed to against the man-to-man, but we know how to do it because we have been in tougher games than this,” said Coach Kennedy. “Composure, we have to show some more composure.”

Claremont has a very young team with six sophomores, four juniors and one freshman but no seniors. As a result, they have a big opportunity to mature together as a team. On Tuesday, they did show a depth in the ranks with seven players scoring at least one goal and two topping 10 points.

Sophomore Camille Troncone was the Pack’s top scorer at 14, and demonstrated her potential to be a real leader on the court.

“Camille is one of our captains. She is really strong inside and out and very mature for a sophomore,” said Coach Kennedy.

Tuesday’s game came down to the fourth quarter, when the Cougars came alive just as the Pack went cold. Destiny Dent, Rancho’s top scorer, hit a three-point shot to open the quarter. Meanwhile, Rancho went on the offensive, fouling Troncone nearly every time she touched the ball, which was fortunate because all the Pack’s seven points were free throws.

During the final quarter, Rancho scored 21 points, culminating with a series of plays in the final minute. The Cougars’ Megan Chimwaza tied the game with 20 seconds to go and then Claremont sophomore Laurel Marchant’s lay-up failed to fall. Coach Kennedy quickly called a time-out. It looked like the game was headed for overtime but as CHS  put the ball in play, Chimwaza stole it and got an easy lay-up in the final seconds to clinch the win.

“This year, we’re looking to mature—to understand the situations to understand how the game is played and then make  the right adjustments,” said Coach Kennedy. “We are a young team still learning and growing but we are in a fight every time we step on the court.”

On Wednesday they lost again to Chaffey, 39-36, in the second round of the Wolfpack Classic. With the loss, the team’s record is 6-3. They hope to turn things around with games on Thursday and Friday.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com