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CV varsity girls basketball team claims second consecutive WAC crown
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Central Valley High School fielded its inaugural varsity girls basketball team in 2006-07.

The Hawks lost all of their league games and struggled to a 2-21 overall record.

On Feb. 14, Central Valley earned a hard-fought 52-49 victory against Los Banos in front of a spirited crowd in Ceres.

The win helped the Hawks secure their second straight Western Athletic Conference title and Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth.

"It's hard to win back-to-back titles in any sport," head coach Jesse Padilla said. "These girls have started a tradition."

"Coach Padilla deserves a lot of the credit," junior post player Brittany Martinez said. "He's believed in us since day one until now."

Patterson had a two-game lead over Central Valley and Los Banos at the midway point of the WAC season. Central Valley, Livingston and Los Banos dealt Patterson consecutive losses. Central Valley and Los Banos shared the league title last year.

"We're still proving people wrong," Martinez said. "Patterson was supposed to win it this year. They didn't think we'd repeat. That angered us a little. That made us work harder."

Central Valley and Los Banos sat in first place in the WAC standings with identical 8-2 records prior to last week's meeting. CV and LB both rallied from deficits. The Hawks prevailed.

"We're the two best teams in the league," Padilla said. "It should end like this with the game going down to the wire."

Vivien Fermil buried four treys while tallying a team-high 15 points for the Hawks. She also had three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Diana Carmona collected 13 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists.

Martinez chipped in with 11 points, 10 rebounds, six steals and four blocks.

Valerie Olide scored nine points and grabbed 12 rebounds.

Mia Lorenzo and Penny Chanthavong both contributed two points.

Chanthavong's two clutch free throws gave Central Valley a 52-49 lead with 2.5 seconds to play.

"It was really nerve racking but I zoned in," she said.

"Penny's one of our better free-throw shooters when she gets there," Padilla said. "That was huge."

Fermil's 3-pointer from the right wing electrified Central Valley's crowd and put the Hawks ahead by one point, 50-49, with 25 seconds left in regulation.

"There was no set play," said Vivien, whose team trailed 49-47 17 seconds earlier when Los Banos' Jacquline Arretche scored on a putback. "I was open and just shot the ball."

Central Valley battled back from a shaky start.

The Hawks trailed by as much as 13 points before cutting the deficit to 28-25 heading into halftime.

Central Valley outscored Los Banos 13-4 in the third period. Martinez and Carmona had five points apiece. Fermil added three points.

"We've been preparing for them," Martinez said. "We both wanted it. Nobody wanted to share the league title."

"We just kept our composure and played as best as we could," Chanthavong said. "Everybody did a great job."

"We protected the ball and played better defense," Padilla said when asked how his team swayed momentum back in its favor.

The Hawks performed to their potential under pressure.

Central Valley will add another league title to the green Girls Basketball Banner inside the school's gymnasium.

Mission accomplished.

Padilla, his players and Hawk fans have reason to celebrate.

"It's exciting," he said. "These girls accomplished a goal they've had since the beginning of the season. They put in a lot of work this summer. I truly believed we would be here."

"It feels so good," Fermil said. "I can't even explain it."

For the second year in a row, Central Valley made history in girls basketball.

"It feels great to have the support of the school," Chanthavong said. "It gives us more confidence and energy to play."

Said Martinez: "We're thankful for them. They encourage us to do better."

Added Padilla: "I just wish it was like this all the time."