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San Francisco ArcAngles a Force in Boston
Written By: Mike Mon

A quintet of teams competed for the 2011 Women’s Open NACBAIT crown. The usual suspects registered, with the Toronto Black Dragons (2010 Champs), SF ArcAngels (2002, 2008, 2009 Champs), LA Aiya (2001, 2003, 2004, 2007 Champs), and Toronto CCYAA (2006 Champs) taking part. Following a seemingly endless round robin that did not finish until Sunday morning, these four teams advanced to the Semifinals. Only the winless NY Lady Rockits did not advance.

On Court 3, it would be the #1 seeded SF ArcAngels meeting their west coast archrivals, the #4 LA Aiya. These squads have met numerous times over the years, but their meeting in Boston would not turn out to be a thriller. LA entered the tournament with only 8 on their roster, and without the highly regarded Welsh sisters. With no go to scorer, the game turned into a 53-32 rout for SF. Heather Lee paced the ArcAngels with 20, and Kelly Tiao netted 16. Meanwhile, on Court 4, it was the intense intracity battle for Toronto’s top team status when CCYAA met up with the Black Dragons. Black Dragon SF Kim Lee (All-Tournament) got off to a great start, dominating the smaller CCYAA team by scoring 18 of her 24 points in the first half. Niveal Pastrana played a great second fiddle, slashing her way to 9. The Black Dragons were up by double digits, but the game remained close as CCYAA threatened numerous times. G Christine Vuong (15 pts) and F Fiona Cheng (14 pts) gave it their all, but Rachel Niven had a strong second half for the Dragons as they moved on 52-44.

On Monday morning, it was big game time as the games moved over to a full length NCAA regulation court. It would be the SF ArcAngels v/s the Toronto Black Dragons for the chip. These teams met last year on Monday, and the Black Dragons defended their homecourt for their first ever title. This time around, the ArcAngels felt confident that they had a better feel for the Black Dragon gameplan. Neither team was particularly deep, but both squads could go 7 deep without a falloff in talent. The biggest difference between 2010 and 2011 for Toronto would be the absence of 5-11 C Gillian Maxwell. Without Maxwell there to control the paint, SF would have the opportunity to target that area of the floor. The game was close, with San Francisco holding a 3-6 point lead throughout the first half. In the second half, the Dragons began taking a lot of threes, but were off the mark- and the ArcAngels were poised for a run. With 8:10 to play, Kelly Tiao hit on a spin move for a 40-30 edge. Toronto continued to look to their best player, Kim Lee, but Tracy Tiao was doing a solid defensive job on her despite giving up at least 2-3 inches. At 7:07, Shorty Ty connected on a treyball for a 43-32 lead. Lee Anne Chong answered with a drive down the middle and the score was 43-34. Both teams remained scoreless for quite a few possessions as the game started to get hectic. TO’s Anne Pastrana went to the cup hard and was hacked with 3:25 as she stepped to the line for a missed 1-and-1 opportunity. Frisco grabbed the board, and started to work the clock by passing the leather around the hardwood. Finally, Tracy Tiao penetrated and was fouled with 2:32. Tiao missed both as Toronto headed up the court looking to cut the lead. But a turnover led to another foul as Tracy stepped up to the line once more. She missed her third straight FT. Rachel Niven pushed it to the frontcourt for the Dragons and was trying to find Lee. Lee was smothered by the ArcAngels, but she grabbed an offensive rebound and was sent to the charity stripe for a couple shots with 1:37. Kim only made 1 of 2 and it was 43-35. Heather Lee got a breakaway layup to push the lead to 10. Sensing that time was not on their side, Niven took a quick three and missed, but Toronto scored on a quick putback at the 1:09 mark to make it 45-37. Toronto quickly hacked Heather Lee, who proceeded to miss her free throw. The rebound glanced off a couple of body parts and the ball bounced out of bounds. The refs decided that the Spalding should go to the Canadians, but the Black Dragons immediately threw it away as Shorty came up with the rock. Kelly Tiao got the ball and she was sent to the line for a double bonus. Kelly took a deep breath and then sank 2. Kelly made another free throw moments later and the score was 48-37 with 43 ticks to go. TO had the ball, but SF came up with another steal. The ArcAngels went for another double bonus chance and they missed two. The Black Dragons got the ball inbounded and were looking for a quick three, but it was impossible to get a good look as the ArcAngels were on them like white on rice. Niveal Pastrana sank an incredible three from the wing and it was 48-40. SF got the ball to Kelly Tiao and she hit 2/2 ft’s to make it 50-40. The ArcAngels remained aggressive on the defensive end and were called for a foul on Kim Lee as she shot the ball from the top of the key. Kim connected on 2 free throws to cut the lead to 8 with 13.2 seconds. Tracy Tiao was then fouled and she continued to struggle as she missed two more gimmes, but she still had the beautiful smile of a top model. As the game wound down, Niven missed a heave and the SF ArcAngels emerged as the 2011 NACBAIT Champions with a 50-42 victory. Kelly Tiao was the leading scorer for SF with 24, while Kim Lee dropped 15 for the Black Dragons. For her intense defensive efforts, hustle, rebounding, and all around performance throughout the weekend, Tracy Tiao was named MVP. Great job San Francisco!

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