Mar 02, 2016
Cecilia Cuneo had just three points Wednesday night, but her heady play and tenacious defense made a larger point for the Diablo Valley women's basketball team.
The Vikings, a collection of stars and magnificent role players, were balanced and dominant in a 73-40 demolition of visiting Sacramento City in the 'Sweet 16' of the CCCAA North Regional playoffs.
Impressively, the team that was basically rebuilt in the middle of the season after losing nine players for academic reasons has advanced to the Elite Eight for the second straight year.
"With all that this team has been through, it's just been a tremendous accomplishment," DVC coach Ramaundo Vaughn said.
The Vikings (22-9), seeded fourth, will travel to No. 1 City College of San Francisco on Saturday (27-3), needing one win to advance to the state Final Four, March 11-13 at Las Positas College.
DVC beat CCSF 78-74 in the San Jose City tournament.
"I'm just really excited," said Cuneo, a Northgate High graduate who joined the squad during the season. "The whole team when I came here, they were all very accepting. We all worked together. Even though we were down the players, we still pushed through and gave it all we've got. I'm really happy right now."
Dynamic guard Safiyyah Yasin was a whirlwind with 17 points, five steals and four rebounds. She was 7 for 11 from the field as the Vikings shot 47.4 percent.
"She's feast or famine sometimes, but when she does well she does really well," Vaughn said of Yasin.
Cuneo initially chose not to play after trying out over the summer, but Vaughn, facing a player shortage, helped convince her to change her mind.
The team needed her against the No. 5 seeded Panthers, who had beaten the Vikings twice in the Big 8 season. Cuneo had five rebounds and two steals, and her defense was critical in limiting the Panthers' vaunted 3-point shooting.
"Even though the stats may not say it, Cuneo is a heck of a ballplayer," Vaughn said. "She stays within her limitations. She does everything you ask her to do. She's been a blessing to us. Had she not been here, we don't get to this level."
Raeona Ford also stuffed the stat sheet with six assists, four rebounds, a steal and two 3-pointers.
"We looked like we were ready to play today," said Vaughn, whose team won a thriller over Contra Costa in overtime in its Regional opener. "They followed the game plan. We had a very specific game plan. The first two games we played them, they had 20 3-pointers and we had three, so they outscored us 60-9 on threes."
So he told his team to commit to "not letting them get open threes," he said.
Another bright light, Miranda Nelson had six points and three boards off the bench.
-- Matt Schwab