O’Dowd and Salesian make statements with impressive victories
Southern California won the first two major match-ups but Northern California got the final two marquee games of the MLK – St. Mary’s Showcase on Saturday in Stockton.
In what continued as a day in which the girls in the paint had a lot to say about the outcomes, No. 7 ranked Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) made easy work of Vista Murrieta (Murrieta) and No. 8 Salesian rebounded from a loss last week to O’Dowd to beat South Medford in what many observers felt was an upset of the top team in Oregon.
With her best friend Natalie Romeo of Concord Carondelet in the stands, Louisville-bound Salesian (Richmond) star Mariya Moore did not disappoint anyone in an exciting 70-68 victory over a South Medford team whose only previous losses were to nationally-ranked Riverdale Baptist of Maryland and Washington power Bothell Lynwood.
As has been the case many times before, the 6-foot Moore was like a one-girl wrecking crew, and the Pride needed every bit of her quadruple-double 21 points, 12 assists, 10 rebounds and 10 steals to secure the victory.
With Salesian (13-5) leading 47-33 early in the third quarter it looked like they might roll to victory, however South Medford wasn’t ready to fold, and in particular Ashley Bolston.
The 6-2 Washington State-bound Bolston led a comeback that saw South Medford (12-3) go on a 23-6 run that gave the Oregon girls a 56-53 early fourth quarter lead. Although Bolston finished with 36 points and 15 rebounds with four assists, it was Moore that took over down the stretch to seal the deal.
Her three point play gave Salesian a 61-58 lead with 4:03 remaining. Moore then weaved past all five defenders for a layup that gave the Pride a 64-60 lead, and finally she found Deja Stallworth (10 points) with a perfect pass for a layup that gave Salesian a 68-64 lead with seconds remaining.
When Bolston fouled Moore’s little sister Minyon Moore and fouled out, the 5-8 sophomore made both ends of the one-on-one and the Pride had a win.
Salesian’s 6-4 Colorado-bound 6-4 center Zoe Correal just missed a double-double after finishing with nine points and 12 rebounds. Junior guard Kian McNair didn’t score much but she had six steals and played excellent defense.
“As a team this was probably our best game of the season,” said Moore as she paused for a picture with Romeo.
It was also a game and performance that stamped her as a legitimate candidate for Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year.
Bishop O’Dowd rolls
The victory by Bishop O’Dowd (13-3) was never really in doubt. The Dragons trailed 2-0 and 2-1 but exploded behind the play of junior point guard Asha Thomas, junior guard Aisia Robertson, freshman newcomer from Indiana Maya Pace, and sophomore transfer Salihah Bey to lead 24-9 after the first quarter in what turned out to be a 71-41 victory.
The score could very well have been worse had O’Dowd head coach Malik McCord not emptied the bench for a long stretch with the score 55-22 midway through the third quarter.
“Before the game I challenged the team and told them I wanted to play everyone, and I’ve got to give my team credit, they followed the game plan,” McCord told Cal-Hi Sports.
The 5-foot-6 Thomas, who is generally regarded as the top-rated junior point guard in the state, finished with 18 points and showed good range on her shooting with two three-pointers and several mid range shots. Robertson only scored eight points but she dealt an equal number of assists and also pulled down six rebounds.
Pace, who had been observed in practice but not in a game situation did not disappoint. Not only did the 5-11 left-hander score 12 points and lead the team with 10 rebounds and four steals, she had the job of guarding Vista Murrieta star Jaelyn Brown.
Brown, a 6-1 sophomore that is reportedly on the radar screen of several top programs including Connecticut, had a team-high 15 points but Pace gave her everything she could handle and many of the points came when the game was decided.
“I told you she’s going to be real special,” McCord remarked. “She guarded Gabby Green, Mariya Moore and now Brown and she’s stepping it up each game with the additional aggressiveness we want from her.”
A pleasant surprise has been the emergence of Bey. With her parents seated right behind the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan, the 5-10 transfer from Stockton St. Mary’s that just became eligible, came off the bench for 11 points and five rebounds, and played very solid defense.
Vista Murrieta (13-5), which came north off a two-point win at No. 18 Temecula Great Oak, also got 11 points from 5-10 sophomore Brittney Reed, but like Brown many of her points came late in the game.
O’Dowd like Salesian is only playing one game in Stockton. The Dragons are now done for the weekend while Salesian faces No. 9 Orinda Miramonte on Monday at the MLK Classic at Kentfield Marin Catholic.
In the other evening game
McClatchy (Sacramento) 59, Vanden (Fairfield) 53
With the score tied 44-44 after three quarters McClatchy (15-1) took over down the stretch behind the play of freshman Jordan Cruz and 6-2 post Destiny Lee. Cruz helped fuel a 16-0 run and had 11 of her 16 points and 11 of the team’s 15 points in the fourth quarter. Lee controlled the paint and finished with a double-double 15 points and 14 rebounds. Gigi Garcia, a 6-2 sophomore, added 10 points. Vanden (12-4) was led by Brittany Kirbyson and Julia Blackshell-Fair with 13 and 10 points respectively. Vanden will now meet Vista Murrieta on Monday in Stockton.