The first day of the Stockton St. Mary’s MLK Showcase — just like the second day will be on Monday — featured four of the state’s top 12 teams from the Cal-Hi Sports State Top 20.
One of the primary attractions of the event is to pit top teams from Northern California against top teams from outside of the region and on the first big day on Saturday the host Rams (ranked fourth overall in the state coming in) lost to No. 5 Windward of Los Angeles 89-74 while No. 3 St. Mary’s of Berkeley lost to No. 12 Etiwanda 65-49.
Windward proved it will remain a force for the upcoming CIF Southern Section Open Division playoffs (we’re pretty sure the Wildcats will be in it) by knocking off a St. Mary’s team that was playing its first game against a top opponent without junior guard Bri Moore.
Moore, a first team all-state choice last year as a sophomore, is no longer attending St. Mary’s. She is now enrolled at another public school in the area.
Even with Moore, the Wildcats would have been tough to beat on Saturday. After missing six minutes of the first quarter with two quick fouls, USC-bound center Kris Simon exerted herself the rest of the game and ended with game-highs of 25 points and 24 rebounds. UCLA-bound point guard Jordin Canada, the leading senior candidate to be the next Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year, also shined with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.
“Those are two things special about this team,” said Windward head coach Vanessa Nygaard. “One, you have a player like Kris who can do things inside that very few players can. Then you have Jordin. Nobody has a player like her.”
Windward (14-2) went on an 18-2 run in the second quarter that turned a 28-19 deficit into a 37-30 lead. The Rams (13-4) fought back to tie the score at 39-39 at halftime, but Windward went on another 11-2 run to start the third quarter and the Rams never came back from that.
“I can’t question our effort, but experience like they have can catch up with you,” said St. Mary’s coach Tom Gonsalves. “That’s where we have to grow. We also missed a few layups and for some reason I thought we did not have good energy beginning the third quarter.”
Sophomore Mi’Cole Cayton seemed to be the one player for the Rams to pick up the pace with Moore now being gone. She had energy throughout the contest and finished with 24 points. Sophomore Kat Tudor added 15 for St. Mary’s. Both Cayton and Tudor made four 3-pointers.
In the second of the two big showdowns, the team from Southern California once again pulled away from the NorCal team after the score was tied at halftime.
The loss by Berkeley St. Mary’s also may mute some of the debate about the Panthers (16-3) being ranked No. 2 behind Long Beach Poly among California teams in one national poll. The Panthers still may not drop too far in the next state rankings because they have a chance to bounce back Monday against Windward.
“This win is definitely indicative of growth by our team,” said Etiwanda head coach Anders Anderson, whose team improved to 14-4. “The girls came back from travel fall a little beat up and it’s taken awhile for them to get the flame going.”
Etiwanda’s up-and-down season so far has included splits with Chaminade of West Hills with a one-point loss to La Jolla Country Day and a win over Bishop’s of La Jolla.
The Eagles, like Windward, also have a bit of an inside-outside combo in seniors Amy Okonkwo and McKynzie Fort. Although Okonkwo shoots three-pointers and isn’t as powerful as Kris Simon, she posted similar numbers on Saturday with 22 points and 16 rebounds. Fort had 13 points, five rebounds and five assists.
“It would have been nice if we had just made some shots,” said St. Mary’s coach Nate Fripp. “In the big picture, this will effect the rankings but other than that it hopefully won’t end up meaning that much.”
St. Mary’s cut the score to 34-33 in the third quarter on two free throws and a basket by senior Gabby Green. The Eagles, however, then went on a 12-3 spurt to end the quarter and the Panthers never were in it in the fourth quarter.
Green nearly notched a triple-double in defeat with 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight steals. Her teammate, Mikayla Cowling, had a sub-par outing with just nine points and four rebounds. She played in games earlier in the week, but had been sick with the flu last weekend.
In other early games Saturday at the MLK Showcase:
Sacramento 65, Monterey Trail (Elk Grove) 40
After losing all six games at the Nike TOC and West Coast Jamboree combined, the Dragons have now won six straight against teams from the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section after an easy victory. Sacramento (9-6) was led by the 21 points of sophomore guard Aliceah Hernandez. Arizona State-bound 6-foot-4 post Ayanna Edwards registered a double-double 11 points and 10 rebounds with seven blocks. Freshman guard Courtesy Clark added 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals.
Christian Brothers (Sacramento) 65, Redwood (Visalia) 57
The defending CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division III champions won the game but lost sophomore star Dominique Hart-McNeely (11 points) for the season with a minute left when she re-injured her right shoulder that already had surgery. Kira McKechnie led Christian Brothers (9-9) with 13 points. Alicia Gonzalez added 10 points.
Florin (Sacramento) 64, Lincoln (Stockton) 58 OT
In the first game of the MLK Showcase, it was a case of too much Dalayna Sampton. The 6-foot-2 Hawaii-bound senior Florin post had a big double-double of 24 points and 18 rebounds. Danielle Pacheco led Lincoln with 24 points.
Harold Abend contributed to this report.