Had Garces' 60-37 victory over Oakhurst-Yosemite on Wednesday been a boxing match, the only thing to decide was exactly when the knockout came.
Was it when C.J. West scored on an easy putback for a 9-0 lead? Kayla Scott's strip and score to make it 20-4? Or maybe five straight points from Lisa Darquea for a 25-4 lead a few minutes later?
Whatever the case, top-seeded Garces put to rest early any ideas of a Central Section Division II upset. No. 5 Yosemite played the Rams (29-3) mostly even the rest of the way, but the Badgers (17-10) never recovered from the early flurry.
"We have a tendency to play hard and get ahead in the first few minutes and then let teams get back close," West said. "We think, 'Oh, we're good,' and then we let up. Tonight we did a good job of keeping that lead up."
Garces, seeking the second section title in program history, will face No. 3 Tulare Western at 6 p.m. Friday in the Division II championship.
"I'm proud of them," Rams coach Tod Denison said. "We work them hard, so they deserve this."
West led Garces with a stuffed stat sheet: 13 points, 14 rebounds, 5 steals, 3 blocks and one tremendous sigh of relief.
Early in the second quarter, with Garces already in control, West swatted a Yosemite jump shot out of bounds and immediately grabbed her right shoulder and fell to the floor in pain.
A minute later, however, she was back on her feet and headed to the bench. And a few minutes after that, she was back in the game.
"I thought, 'Oh my gosh, what happened?'" said West, who had her shoulder wrapped in ice after the game. "I felt it pop out, but when I stood up it popped back in. It's sore, but I'll get some good therapy (today) and be find for (Friday)."
That was the last bit of drama. Yosemite, which stunned top-seeded Garces with a last-second shot in the 2011 D-II semifinals, committed 24 turnovers and never got closer than 18 points after the big run early.
"Obviously it helps to come out strong," Denison said. "You can kind of take a team out of the game like that."
Julia Walsh had 11 points for Yosemite, and Sierra Dominici and Veronica Miller each scored 10, but the rest of the team combined for just six.
For Garces, Darquea finished with 11 points, all in the first half, and Rhiana Dougan and Ashlee Cameron each had 8.
Garces, which lost a lopsided final to No. 1 Ridgeview last year, now finds itself in the favorite's chair.
"We're playing pretty good basketball," Denison said. "Now we have one more to go."