By Joe Davidson
STOCKTON - Not bad for a serious head cold that made for a scratchy voice, a runny nose and a general blah feeling.
That was Lauren Sende on an under-the-weather day, so imagine how sickly the Armijo Indians must feel about now.
With Sende overcoming her healths and enduring a fast, tall, athletic bunch, the senior post had the game of her life with 18 points and 22 rebounds to key a 63-52 victory for No. 6-seeded Oak Ridge High School over the second-seeded Indians of Fairfield in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal at the University of the Pacific.
Sende had eight of her rebounds in the fourth quarter, always snaring the board the having elbows out in a fundamentally perfect image of defense. She also had three free throws down the stretch as the Trojans (23-7) used a 9-0 run to close it out and halt Armijo's 12-game winning streak.
Steady guard Jenna Klein scored all 14 of her points in the first half for Oak Ridge and Haley Anderson scored nine, including a bucket and four straight free throws in the closing run. Anderson also had five rebounds. Oak Ridge outrebounded Armijo 43-32, with Sende leading the charge.
"What can you say about Lauren?" Oak Ridge coach Steve White said. "She had a huge game. That's the most complete game she's had and now we're challenging her to repeat it."
That repeat effort would mean in Saturday's D-I title game at Power Balance Pavilion, where Oak Ridge has won three titles before. That run of success includes the 2010 D-I title team that also stormed to NorCal and State large-school championships under White.
A number of Oak Ridge seniors were on that 2010 roster, though they did not play. They soaked up the experience, however, and hunger for their shot at extending the Oak Ridge legacy.
Sende promises to be there, a box of tissues and cold medicine in tow, if need be.
"I've been sick all week but I knew I had to push through for my team," Sende said. "I said, 'screw it! I don't care!'"
Sende has always been blessed with size and a skill set. She now has the other element that makes for one dangerous player in the paint.
"I had to gain more confidence," she said. "Now I have that."
Marshanique Hall had 16 points for Armijo, though White was pleased with how his team defended her. He raved about her skill set. Melaya Gaines had 13 for Armijo, which still advances to the NorCal D-I tournament, though it will be a road team facing a very high seed next week.
Oak Ridge had 20 players on its bench, including six from the schools' 25-0 junior varsity team.
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