High School girls basketball: Greenfield claims first league title

Peninsula Premier Admin

GREENFIELD – The minute the buzzer sounded, emotions took over. A few tears, a lot of smiles and a piece of the net for keepsake ensued.

A celebration 23 years in the making left Greenfield girls basketball coach John Radcliff numb, until bottles of water were poured over his head.

Make room for a banner in the rafters as the program has its first league title since opening its doors in 1999 after a 47-41 win Tuesday over rival King City clinched the Santa Lucia Division outright.

“As soon as we got off the court, it was very emotional,” senior Jessica Rodriguez said. “It hit me immediately. It is such an adrenaline rush. Honestly I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight.”

Not only did Greenfield secure the title outright, but it went undefeated in league play, setting a school record with 12 consecutive wins going into Thursday’s Central Coast Section playoffs.

“I told my wife when the season started, I think I have a great group,” Radcliff said. “She said you always say that every year. I’m always optimistic.”

Radcliff is the only coach the program has had since its inception. He has been close a couple of times, as recently as 2020 when the Bruins fell in the final game of the regular season to Monterey.

“I was a sophomore on that team,” Rodriguez said. “It hurt a lot. Then we did not have a season last year because of the pandemic. I had to leave my senior year with something to be remembered by.”

One-by-one, members of the Bruins cut a piece of the net down to celebrate their accomplishment, giving them a slice of history to take home.

“Honestly it has not sunk in for me yet,” senior guard Linda Ornelas said. “Maybe when I wake up in the morning, it will hit me. We screamed, yelled, embraced each other, threw water on Radcliff.”

As much fun as the Bruins have had in their return to the court this season, uncharted waters began to weigh on their minds when the winning streak reached 10.

That was evident in a narrow 55-52 win over Gonzales, the first time in Santa Lucia Division play that an outcome had not been decided by double digits.

“There was a little pressure building,” said Ornelas, who finished with 14 points. “But we have all believed in each other. What made this year special is we were just so glad to be back out here. We made it a point to have fun.”

As dominant as Greenfield was in league play, it was a narrow loss to Stevenson prior to the start of the regular season that told Radcliff he had a special group.

Having suffered a 22-point loss to the Mission Division champions on December 3rd, the Bruins were within a field goal in the final minutes before falling by eight to Stevenson 24 days later.

“We had a halftime lead,” Radcliff recalled. “We ran with them, played with them. We just ran out of gas in the final two minutes. But it was clear we were getting better.”

Along the path to a 17 win season for the Bruins was a non-league win over Notre Dame, the first time the program had beaten them.

“It’s nice to get over the hump,” Radcliff said. “As disappointing as it was to not have a season last year, those that came back worked that much harder. It’s a phenomenal group of ladies to work with.”

A year of firsts included snapping a seven-game losing streak to their rivals to the south in King City, who entered the season having a 30-8 overall record over Greenfield — and came into the game with a shot to share the title.

“I had six or seven kids that showed up each night,” Radcliff said. “We were very balanced. One person didn’t carry us. A different individual stepped up each night. Just a special group of players.”

The 17 overall wins ties the single-season school record, set in 2005. It also gave Radcliff win No. 232 in his two plus decade tenure.

“We had to open another set of bleachers,” Rodriguez said. “Our side was full. I’m feeling very happy. I’ve got a piece of the net for history. And we’re wearing our championship shirts to school on Wednesday.”

Contributed by local news sources

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