La Jolla Country Day blows past Troy to move back into elite statewide list. The Torreys face No. 1 Windward next, which will not have played in 12 days. Long Beach Poly, Ridgeview and Lynwood moving up as well.
By Harold Abend
Contributing: Mark Tennis, Paul Muyskens
One of the teams that has re-emerged in this week’s Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20, despite a roster that has been thinned throughout the season by flu-type sicknesses, is new No. 17 La Jolla Country Day, a team that was in the rankings early on before its win-loss record fell below .500 with the grueling schedule.
Now, after a surprisingly easy 51-31 victory over previous No. 8 Troy of Fullerton last Friday, 2012 State Coach of the Year Terri Bamford and her 2012 Division IV state champion Torreys face No. 1 Windward in the CIF Southern California Open Division semifinals.
“We’re alive. We’re still in it,” Bamford told Cal-Hi Sports.
The team played great defense against Troy, holding the Warriors to a free throw in a 13-1 first quarter. The biggest reason the girls are still kicking , however, is because of Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year candidate and Washington-bound Kelsey Plum.
The ambidextrous Plum almost outscored Troy herself after finishing with a double-double 27 points and 13 rebounds, with four assists and three steals.
Plum, who was sick with a stomach virus that started before a loss to JSerra of San Juan Capistrano and continued through a loss to Etiwanda and a trip to Northern California where the team lost to Stockton St. Mary’s and Bishop O’Dowd, but gave them both tussles, has been playing like a girl on a mission.
In the CIF San Diego Section 45-39 victory over crosstown arch rival Bishop’s, the 5-foot-9 Plum had 19 points and 19 rebounds. Her current per game averages are 27.1 points (786 total) and 8.5 rebounds.
Even though she’s played four years on consistent winners with great players that she’s had to share the rock with, last year’s State Junior of the Year has still managed to amass 2,215 career points going into the game against Windward.
“She’s just doing it in every facet of the game,” Bamford said.
“Doing it” against Windward is going to take more than even a colossal effort from Plum. Not only does Windward have three top-notch D1 college-level players on the roster, one of them, Jordin Canada, is a leading Ms. Basketball contender herself, despite being a junior.
“Canada is their leader,” Bamford remarked. “She breaks people down – and her court vision is unbelievable. We have to limit her touches.”
That will be easier said than done, and even if the Torreys are successful in shackling Canada, first-year Windward coach Vanessa Nygaard has 3-point record maker and USC-bound Courtney Jaco and sophomore Emily Surloff firing from outside, and Kristen Simon down low, a girl no one in the state has stopped this year, and a player that possesses the strength down low coveted by some of the top colleges in the nation that are pursuing the 6-foot-1 junior.
The biggest question is the 12-day layoff Windward will have had since its rout of Gardena Serra in the CIFSS Division IVAA title game, and the fact the Wildcats really don’t have enough players on the squad to have simulated games.
“I’m no expert being a new coach, and at first I was happy because we were a little dinged up,” Nygaard told Cal-Hi Sports. “But then I thought what are we going to do with all this time? So, not wanting to go into details, I texted Tara (Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer for whom she played) and she gave me some ideas.”
Despite being a huge favorite, there’s a hint of sentiment for Nygaard, who is from the San Diego area herself.
“It’s exciting to be playing the defending state champion of our real division, Kelsey Plum is a great player, and Terri is a great coach and someone I’ve looked up to and admired,” Nygaard said.
Here are this week’s rankings heading into Tuesday’s night’s regional semifinals:
(Updated through games played Saturday, March 9; previous ranking in parentheses)
1. (1) Windward (Los Angeles) 30-0
After resting up for two days shy of two weeks, the Wildcats will take to their adopted home court at Palisades (Pacific Palisades) against a La Jolla Country Day team no one gives a chance to win. A Windward loss to a team with 11 losses, including a 15-point loss to Etiwanda and a loss to a JSerra team the Wildcats beat in the front of the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan, would make Etiwanda’s upset over Mater Dei an afterthought.
2. (2) Mater Dei (Santa Ana) 29-1
The girls took out their frustrations from the loss to Etiwanda in a SoCal Open Division first round 91-44 rout of Bakersfield Stockdale. If Monarchs’ head coach Kevin Kiernan has any worries about his girls having a lack of confidence after the loss in the Inland Empire, it wasn’t evident against the Central Section D1 runners-up. “They put on an absolute clinic on offense and defense,” Stockdale co-coach Charles Stewart told the Bakersfield Californian. For Mater Dei to advance, it will have to travel to the Inland Empire once again, only this time the Monarchs have to beat a Corona Santiago team that took out Etiwanda in the CIFSS Div. 1AA title game.
3. (3) Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 27-3
The Dragons toyed with Brookside Christian in a NorCal Open Division first round 55-30 victory. Next up is No. 6 St. Mary’s of Berkeley in the semifinals. For those that question the rankings. keeping O’Dowd ahead of Santiago leaves it open for O’Dowd to move to No. 2 behind the Windward team that dealt them their only in-state and full-strength loss, with Santiago falling in behind them should they beat Mater Dei and Windward takes care of Country Day. That scenario can only play out if the Dragons take care of business against the Panthers on Tuesday and advance to the NorCal title game.
4. (4) Santiago (Corona) 29-2
We’ll re-state it from last week. If Santiago can get past Mater Dei, it will prove these rankings wrong for not moving them up higher, but to get to the promised land of No. 1 eventually will mean also getting past the other two teams ahead of them and winning a state championship, unless one of them loses first, which is an unlikely scenario. The Sharks didn’t have quite as long a layoff as Windward, but when they take the court at home on Tuesday as the No. 2 seed in the SoCal Open Division against No. 3 seed Mater Dei, they will have had 10 days between games.
5. (6) St. Mary’s (Stockton) 28-2
The Rams get back one of the two spots they lost last week with Etiwanda’s fall from grace, but their faithful had to hold their breath in the final 2.6 seconds of their 63-62 victory over No. 7 seed Miramonte. When the visitors couldn’t convert the front end of a one-on-one free-throw situation, Unique Coleman snared the rebound and time expired. Long-range shooter Kat Tudor did more than just bomb from the outside and finished with a team-high 19 points. Bri Moore, who is a serious candidate for State Sophomore of the Year, added 16 points and played very well despite herself missing the front end of a one-on-one twice in the final moments. Next up in the NorCal Open Division semis is a visiting Carondelet of Concord team emboldened by a rout of San Jose Mitty.
6. (7) St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 29-4
Like Stockton St. Mary’s, the Panthers gain back one of the spots they lost last week despite each being a section champion. They didn’t have it quite as close in their NorCal Open opener as the girls from the SJS, but No. 5 seed Sacramento, the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II champion, gave them all they could handle early on before Gabby Green and company went on a 14-0 run that erased a 9-8 first quarter deficit and gave the Panthers control of the game.
7. (9) Long Beach Poly (Long Beach) 25-5
Poly head coach Carl Buggs predicted his girls would be ready for Etiwanda, and after a warm-up in a blowout win over Los Angeles Fairfax, the experienced Jackrabbits went on the road to the Inland Empire where they took out the top-seeded Eagles, 57-51. Keyla Morgan took over at the end by keying a 9-0 run that erased a one-point deficit with 4:19 left. Morgan scored 12 of her 17 points in the fourth quarter. While the rest of the top teams are fighting it out in the Open Division, the “lowly” No. 8 seed in the SoCal Division I Regional is now the favorite to win a D1 state title. Anybody who calls it any kind of a “Cinderella” run based on that seeding has no clue about California girls basketball.
8. (10) Miramonte (Orinda) 27-3
Season complete. The Mats got the shaft with their Open Division placement and No. 7 seed, but despite the one-point loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton they are rewarded here and get back the two spots they lost last week after the loss to O’Dowd. We’re using the young team’s resume just like the commissioners did in putting them in the Open Division and not just going with six or seven teams. Their three losses are to top five teams and they have several good wins, including a win over Las Vegas Bishop Gorman at the Nike TOC that was coming off a win over Santiago. Look for this team to be very high in the preseason rankings this fall.
9. (5) Etiwanda 28-4
Season complete. After the two huge upset wins over Long Beach Poly and Mater Dei in the CIFSS Division IVAA playoffs, and then a five-point loss to Santiago in the title game, the young Eagles exit the playoffs after being unable to beat Poly a second time in a 57-51 defeat at the hands of the Jackrabbits. Last week we declared it harsh on both teams to force them to meet so early and head coach Anders Anderson agreed in statements he made to the local media afterward. Still, the future looks bright for the young Eagles, who were led in the loss to Poly by the 18 points of 6-foot-1 junior power forward Amy Okonkwo. Anderson will return 13 of the 15 players on his roster so look for the Eagles to be fairly high in the 2013-14 preseason rankings.
10. (11) Chaminade (West Hills) 29-3
Thought was given to moving Chaminade, Carondelet and Alemany, in front of Etiwanda, but with Chaminade and Alemany playing in a weak field and Chaminade having a win over Carondelet in the title game of the Platinum Division of the West Coast Jamboree, the decision was made to wait and see what happens this week before moving the up that trio too high. The Eagles opened the SoCal Division III playoffs with an 83-47 win against Los Angeles Eagle Rock and followed that with a 71-53 victory over Santa Barbara. UC Santa Barbara-bound Mi’Chael Wright scored 16 points to lead four Chaminade girls in double figures in a game the LA Daily News reported was closer than the final score indicated.
11. (12) Carondelet (Concord) 24-3
The scrappy Cougars were 2-1 against Bay Area Catholic school Division II rival Archbishop Mitty in recent Northern Regional matchups, but the difference in the Saturday 89-69 win over Mitty was it was in the Open Division and the other three games were decided by three points or less. Some Bay Area rankings have Carondelet ahead of Miramonte and Berkeley St. Mary’s due to a head-to-head win in the third game of the season over St. Mary’s, but a loss to a Monte Vista team that was knocked out in the first round of the NorCal D1 playoffs becomes more of a stinker. If the Cougars pull off the upset in Stockton this week, they will certainly move ahead of that pair, and Stockton St. Mary’s, and might do so even in a close loss, especially if a Lynwood team Carondelet beat wins the SoCal Division II regional title.
12. (13) Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 29-5
For the second week in a row, the Warriors move up a single spot in the rankings as they opened the CIF SoCal Division III regional playoff with double-digit wins over St. Joseph of Lakewood and Calabasas to increase their winning streak to 11 games. They will now take on Reseda, which features perennial state stat star and new single-season state rebounding record holder Ahlisha Henderson. With a win, it would likely set up Alemany for a matchup against No. 10 Chaminade of West Hills in the SoCal finals with a trip to the state finals on the line. If that finals matchup takes place, it will be the third time this season those two have faced as they split a pair of Mission League games to tie for the league championship.
13. (14) Salesian (Richmond) 27-7
After a first-round bye, the top-seeded Pride opened in the NorCal Division IV bracket against Atherton Sacred Heart Prep and led 61-27 after three quarters before emptying the bench in the fourth quarter of a 74-43 victory. State Junior of the Year candidate Mariya Moore barely broke a sweat and finished with 19 points, nine assists, eight rebounds and four steals. The Pride girls now face CIFCCS D4 champion and No. 5 seed Atherton Menlo, a 53-38 winner on the road at No. 4 seed Grass Valley Bear River.
14. (16) Ridgeview (Bakersfield) 28-3
Stanford-bound Erica McCall led the top-seeded Wolf Pack to two easy wins in the Southern Regional Division II playoffs, 64-47 over Redondo Beach Redondo Union, and 58-40 over Murrieta Valley of Murrieta. The win over Redondo Union was in the school’s first ever Southern Regional playoff game. McCall, who is now the No. 1 career shot blocker according to the Cal-Hi Sports Record Book and moving up the career rebound list, had 19 points, 13 rebounds, 11 blocks and five steals. In the win against Redondo Union, she had 37 points, 16 rebounds and six blocks, but gave everyone in Bakersfield a scare when she tweaked her knee. She left the game in the second quarter, but returned in the third with it wrapped and played on despite it being sore. The Wolf Pack will need McCall at full strength when J.W. North (Riverside) comes to town on Tuesday in the semifinals.
15. (17) Serra (Gardena) 26-6
Bouncing back from their section final loss against No. 1 Windward and their second loss this season against the Wildcats, the Cavaliers opened CIF SoCal Division IV regional play with a 61-39 win over St. Bonaventure of Ventura. Siera Thompson scored 17 points to lead the way after their first-round bye. Serra’s game on Tuesday will be a rematch of the CIFSS Division 4AA semifinals that saw the Cavaliers defeat JSerra Catholic of San Juan Capistrano. Helping them stay ahead of the newly ranked La Jolla Country Day is the fact they’ve split a pair of games against St. Bernard and also have a win over JSerra . Both St. Bernard and JSerra have both defeated the Torreys.
16. (19) Lynwood 26-5
The Lady Knights are still in the mix to win a fourth state title for head coach Ellis Barfield. A challenging start to the season saw the Knights lose by two points against Ridgeview of Bakersfield and Carondelet of Concord but since that 5-5 start to the season they have not lost with a 21-game win streak. Lynwood began the CIF SoCal Division II regional with wins over Garces of Bakersfield and Granada Hills. Junior Jazmine Johnson scored 14 points as the Knights opened up a 33-15 halftime lead on the way to the 50-36 win to end the week. With a win over La Costa Canyon on Tuesday. they could get their rematch against No. 14 Ridgeview with a trip to the state finals on the line. Their other three losses came against teams from other states.
17. (NR) La Jolla Country Day (La Jolla) 18-11
With the impressive win over Troy, it’s likely the Torreys will stay in the rankings all the way until the end, and may even move up as teams in other divisions lose. An Open Division win over a team that was No. 8 in the state will trump almost everything that could happen in other divisions.
18. (8) Troy (Fullerton) 25-4
Season complete. The Warriors don’t quite drop out of the top 20, but they drop way out of the top 10 after back-to-back losses to end the season, including a 51-31 defeat at the hands of La Jolla Country Day last week in the opening round of the SoCal Open Division playoffs. Before that, they suffered a 53-41 loss to the eventual section champions Santiago of Corona in the CIF-SS Division IAA semifinals. It was the second time this season they lost to the Sharks while their lone other loss to a team from California was against Mater Dei of Santa Ana before going undefeated in the Freeway League. Some of the key wins early this season that had them ranked so high were against Millikan of Long Beach, Rancho Verde of Moreno Valley and St. Bernard of Playa del Rey.
19. (20) Canyon Springs (Moreno Valley) 20-9
Since February 1, the Cougars have not lost a game as they increased their winning streak to 10 games last week with wins over University of Los Angeles and Granite Hills of El Cajon to start the CIF SoCal Division I playoffs. Their next game will be a rematch of the CIFSS Division IA semifinals that saw the Cougars pick up a 78-69 win over Vista Murrieta on their way to capturing the section championship. If they can defeat the Broncos for a second time, they will then face either Long Beach Poly or Bishop Amat of La Puente with a trip to the state finals on the line.
20. (18) Archbishop Mitty (San Jose) 24-6
Season complete. The Monarchs get to keep the final spot for now since their regional playoff loss was to a top-notch highly ranked team like Carondelet. Mitty scored 69 points against in that Open Division game, which is much better than the loss previous No. 15 Millikan took against a Vista Murrieta team that was a loser to Canyon Springs in the CIFSS Division 1A semifinals. Kelli Hayes did everything she could against Carondelet, finishing with 17 points, but despite scoring 15 points Vanessa Garner still wasn’t at full strength since returning from an injury. That made Mitty short of ball-handlers against the Cougars’ press.
Team That Dropped Out: Previous No. 15 Millikan (Long Beach) 27-5
Teams On the Bubble: (teams must still be in playoffs with exception of Open Division and some Division I losers)
Agoura (Agoura Hills) 23-11, Berkeley 20-11, Bishop Amat (La Puente) 25-9, Brookside Christian (Stockton) 26-5*, Clovis West (Fresno) 23-6*, Eastside College Prep (East Palo Alto) 22-8, Enterprise (Redding) 29-1, Florin (Sacramento) 23-9, Gunn (Palo Alto) 21-6, Heritage (Brentwood) 26-5, Horizon (San Diego) 24-7, J.W. North (Riverside) 24-5, JSerra (San Juan Capistrano) 24-7, La Costa Canyon (Carlsbad) 30-2, Lowell (San Francisco) 25-6*, Lynbrook (San Jose) 23-5, Millikan (Long Beach) 27-5*, Oak Ridge (El Dorado Hills) 27-4**, Reseda 23-5, Sacramento 27-5*, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 23-6, St. Bernard (Playa del Rey) 27-8, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 20-10, St. Francis (Mountain View) 21-8, Stockdale (Bakersfield) 24-6*, Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) 27-6, Wilcox (Santa Clara) 23-5
**not including forfeits
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