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A championship tilt
The Sinclear Grizzlies overcame a hot start by the Carroll Fowler Magic and claimed the Ceres Youth Basketball League Girls Tournament crown with a hard-fought 36-27 victory on Tuesday, April 3 at Blaker-Kinser Jr. High School.

The fourth-seeded Magic led by as much as 12 points in the opening half.

The top-seeded Grizzlies cut the deficit to three just before intermission.

Sinclear outscored Carroll Fowler 21-9 the rest of the way.

"We played a little more disciplined and they cooled off in the second half," Grizzlies head coach Marcos Duran said.

"It was a good game," Magic head coach Donnie Donaldson stated. "Then Ayannah got hot and we had a hard time coming back.."

Sinclear power forward Ayannah O'Neal tallied a game-high 20 points, including six straight to break a tie early in the fourth quarter.

"Not to take anything away from the other girls, but she's a really good player," Duran said. "She's got a lot of skills."

Added Donaldson: "We couldn't stop her."

Speedy guard Tajanae Clark collected a team-high 12 points for Carroll Fowler. Alyssa Donaldson and Taylor Brewer chipped in with six and five points, respectively.

The Magic earned the right to play for the title after snapping Sinclear's 11-game winning streak with a 34-27 upset on March 30 at Cesar Chavez Jr. High School. The championship game was supposed to be played on the same day but was rescheduled after Carroll Fowler's Andrea Duran was rushed to the hospital. She sustained a hip injury.

"It was a scare for everybody because of the history of her back," said Marcos, Andrea's father and coach. "She had a stress fracture and was in a brace for four-and-half months last year."

Sinclear posted a 14-2 record in 2012. The Grizzlies won three of four games at the year-end tourney.

Carroll Fowler finished 11-8 and 5-2.

O'Neal and Clark earned tournament-MVP honors. Brewer, Elizabeth Robinson (Sinclear), Macy Deaber (Don Pedro Clippers), Sierra Jones (Sam Vaughn Hornets), Holly Hensen (Westport Rockets) and Hannah Kimbro (Virginia Parks Pacers) were all-tourney picks.

"This league has some talented girls in it," head coach Duran said. "They're battle-tested before they got to junior high."