Girls BB: CIF Sac-Joaquin stretch run

Young St. Mary’s looking strong despite lack of height, while Sacramento re-emerges as a playoff contender

After trailing 7-0 at the start and 24-10 after one quarter, at one point the Sacramento McClatchy girls had pulled to a 42-40 deficit against top-seed and No. 4 ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton in the third quarter of the CIFSJS Division I semifinal.

I must admit, despite the McClatchy girls hanging tough, I could see the outcome after viewing the first eight minutes, and decided to head the 100-miles home and rely on information from Sacramento-area scribe Trevor Horn.

Despite being underclass-dominated, and not having a girl over 6-foot on the roster, St. Mary’s (24-4) continues to roll using defense and three-point shooting as keys to success, and McClatchy really had no answer for either in a 68-46 victory.

After the run by McClatchy that cut it to two, the girls from Stockton went on an 18-0 run and won handily.

The bottom line is despite no longer having Bri Moore on the team, and even after losing Arizona-bound Charise Holloway to a knee injury last week, St. Mary’s is still very worthy of the top ranking in Northern California, and will be a major factor in who is the Open Division representative for the north later this month at the CIF state championships in Sacramento.

It was almost humorous to see 5-foot-8 Angel Johnson of St. Mary’s matching up in the paint with big, strong 6-foot-3 McClatchy junior post Destiny Lee.

Lee got some easy buckets early when McClatchy went over the top of the vaunted St. Mary’s press. But her contested baskets didn’t come easy, as Johnson harassed her on defense and also did some damage of her own on offense.

Sophomore Johnson led St. Mary’s with 17 points and nine rebounds. Fellow sophomore Kat Tudor had 12 points on four three-pointers, and Mi’Cole Cayton, another one of the sophomore stars for Coach Gonsalves, also added 12 points. Freshman guard Sierra Smith, who has been impressive since the 2013 Girls of Summer, and who’s going to be needed to pick up the slack with the loss of Holloway, chipped in with nine points and six steals, and played great defense.

Sophomore Gigi Garcia led McClatchy (24-4) with a double-double 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Lee also had a double-double 16 points and 13 rebounds, but according to Horn by the fourth quarter they both had run out of gas.

After all was said and done, the night was about Holloway and Johnson. When former Stockton-area prep scribe and current CIFSJS Director of Communications Will DeBoard inquired as to why the Caravan was out in Stockton, the response was to give Sac-Joaquin some love and present Holloway with the Jim Capoot Memorial Award, named in honor of the former Vallejo head coach and Vallejo police officer killed in the line of duty in 2011.

Holloway earned the award for the inspiration and sportsmanship she exhibited during the Platinum Division of the Cal-Hi Sports sponsored 2013 West Coast Jamboree.

Charise Hollway with Capoot Award

Arizona State-bound Charise Holloway of St. Mary’s with the Jim Capoot Award

Johnson is another story. Two summers ago as an incoming freshman, she went up against two D1 girls from Portland Central Catholic at the San Diego Classic, and on one occasion split the two and out-jumped them for a rebound.

“You’ve always liked her but I haven’t, but right now Angel is playing the best she’s ever played,”Gonsalves remarked. “She’s so strong and she can jump.”

Like she did when she jumped center at the opening tip-off against McClatchy and out-jumped the 6-foot-2 Garcia.

Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills is next up for St. Mary’s in the title game on Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento. Oak Ridge was a 59-45 winner over Elk Grove Pleasant Grove.

Sacramento alive and well

For those that wrote off Sacramento after they lost six-straight between the Nike TOC and the West Coast Jamboree, you better think again.

The Dragons made easy work of Loomis Del Oro, leading 30-11 at halftime en route to a 47-30 Division II semifinal victory. Arizona State-bound Ayanna Edwards led Sacramento (22-8) with 10 points. Nevada Las Vegas-bound Simone Sheppard had 13 rebounds.

The Dragons now face McNair of Stockton on Saturday in Sacramento. In a 64-49 victory over Vallejo Bethel, McNair (26-3) got 17 points and 16 rebounds with six assists from Oklahoma State-bound 6-foot-4 Mandy Coleman. Bykema Mobley also had 17 points and University of San Francisco-committed Tiarra Tucker chipped in with 10 points.

Despite the rough start Sacramento would seem ticketed for the NorCal Open Division win or lose on Saturday.

“No one believed in us but ourselves,” Sacramento head coach Michele Massari told Cal-Hi Sports. “We’ve had some bumps, and we’re not there yet, but we’ve been ready since October to make a run, we just needed to get a couple of bruises first.

In the only real upset of the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs, No. 4 seed Sacramento Florin defeated top-seeded Fairfield Vanden, 45-38 in the Division III semifinals at Cosumnes River College.

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