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Sutter girls pull away from Maxwell

Larsen, Stevenson, Hoffman lead the way

Aside from the final score, Sutter High girls basketball coach Dustin Ford wasn't necessarily happy with how the Huskies' final nonleague matchup went.

Shots weren't falling, the hustle wasn't there, and he even found himself uttering the phrase "cement shoes."

The Huskies' effort in the fourth quarter finally gave him something to smile about.

Sutter outscored Maxwell 15-6 over the final 8 minutes on Tuesday night to hold off a fierce effort from the Division-VI Panthers as the Huskies ran away with a 44-30 victory.

"We got the win, which is the most important thing," Ford said. "We were just a little lackadaisical, I think. (Maxwell) made us earn it tonight."

The score was tied 20-20 at halftime before Sutter's veteran trio of Erika Larsen, Destiny Stevenson and Jaelyn Hoffman started to take over.

Stevenson's intensity led Sutter's full-court press to force Maxwell into five turnovers in the third quarter as the Huskies (11-5) outscored the Panthers 9-4 in the frame. Hoffman scored six of her game-high 13 points in the fourth quarter.

Stevenson was a force defensively with five steals, and she scored 12 points, including two 3-pointers.

Ford said this year's group is the most talented he has ever coached, hence his frustration with their early struggles on Tuesday night.

"We have a lot of talent this year," Ford said. "It's a good problem to have when people are worried about how many shots they're getting. I keep telling the girls that this league is wide open to take."

Taking home the program's first Butte View League title in more than a decade will hinge on the performance of two-time A-D All-Area selection Larsen.

League play begins on Jan. 15 at Wheatland and Larsen has quite an impressive streak going.

The 6-foot-2 center has posted a double-double in 35 straight games, dating back to Dec. 7, 2011. That domination continued with 12 points, 17 rebounds and seven blocks against Maxwell (6-4), despite being double and triple-teamed during the game.

"We were a little slow tonight," Larsen said. "In the beginning of the game, I think we were expecting to play well, but we didn't. It wasn't until the second half we realized what we were doing wrong. It was a struggle because our shots just weren't going in."

Larsen already has a Division II scholarship with Cal State Stanislaus locked down, but wouldn't mind ending her senior season with a banner.

She also put together an impressive campaign on the volleyball court where she was named MVP of the BVL and a first team A-D All-Area pick.

"I just have passion (for basketball), but I always tell people, I can't do what I do without my teammates," Larsen said. "I don't get rebounds unless somebody else shoots so this game is a team effort."

Following Tuesday's win, Ford told his girls they have to bring their "A-game" every night in the BVL. Letdowns could make or break a championship run.

"We have the size, the shooters, the quickness, but like any sport, you can't play down," Ford said. "We can't just rely on our athletic ability. They have to go out and take it."

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