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Miramonte explodes on St. Mary’s of Stockton
If anyone ever questioned why Miramonte of Orinda sophomore Sabrina Ionescu was chosen out of 100 girls that tried to walk on to the Gold Medal winning USA U16 team last summer, all you need to do is look at the box score of the Matadors’ CIF Northern Regional Open Division 94-79 victory at St. Mary’s of Stockton.
The 5-foot-11 Ionescu had 31 points to lead five girls in double-figure scoring in what is possibly the worst loss and most points given up by St. Mary’s since the program became a powerhouse.
Senior Mariah Seals had 15 points and was one of two players to come off the bench and hit double-figure scoring. Sophomore Keana Delos Santos scored 14 points, Loyola Marymount-bound Breanna Alford added 13 points, and sophomore Uriah Howard came off the bench to chip in with 12 points.
A giddy Miramonte head coach Kelly Sopak started the phone interview by asking the questions. “Did you think we could come into St. Mary’s and score almost 100 points?”
The answer is really yes and no. In the rankings we had eluded to the fact this Miramonte team is better than the one that had a one-point loss to St. Mary’s in the same game last year, and St. Mary’s was short-handed.
A former star is no longer on the team (Bri Moore) and Arizona-bound Charisse Holloway injured her knee in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs. The result is St. Mary’s head coach Tom Gonsalves was starting two freshmen, two sophomores and a junior.
Miramonte (29-1)successfully broke the press and led by 19 points at halftime, however the hosts didn’t exactly fold.
St. Mary’s (25-6) closed to within five in the third quarter behind the hot shooting of sophomore Kat Tudor (team high 23 points), but although Miramonte stabilized and led 73-61 heading to the final period, Ionescu picked up her fourth foul on the last play of the third quarter.
“I sat her about a minute to start the fourth quarter but it was 59 seconds too much. I couldn’t take it,” Sopak mused.
Miramonte has never won a state championship so this is quite possibly the biggest win in school history.
“Beating St. Mary’s is the pinnacle, but none of it was easy,” Sopak remarked. “Our day began at 2 p.m. getting the girls out of school, and then having to go on the road for an Open Division game at a packed house with unbelievable intensity. I couldn’t be more proud of my girls.”
Sopak now gets to face some familiar faces when the No. 6 seed Mats take on Carondelet next Tuesday. Both Carondelet stars Natalie Romoo and Makenzie Cast played for Sopak on his Cal Stars Elite team.
Berkeley St. Mary’s defense crushes Sacramento
The Cal-Hi Sports Caravan was in Berkeley to see St. Mary’s host Sacramento, and the game was really decided in the first couple of minutes by the defense of the hosts.
Top-seeded St. Mary’s (27-7) came out with a full court press that caused two immediate turnovers. The result was the Panthers bolted out to an 8-0 lead and never looked back en route to a 48-32 CIF Northern Regional Open Division first round victory, in what was a defensive show of strength by the hosts.
As it’s been all season the Cal-bound duo of Mikayla Cowling and Gabby Green were the difference as each recorded double-doubles. With several future Cal teammates in the stands to watch the action, Cowling had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Green finished with 10 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals.
The vise-like St. Mary’s defense held Sacramento to 11 points in the first half and the score was 34-17 after three quarters.
Sacramento closed to 38-29 with 2:19 left but St. Mary’s had an 8-0 run on eight straight free throws to seal the deal.
“We came out really strong but we didn’t put them away,” Green told Cal-Hi Sports. “The big thing was our defense was really good this game.”
After a slow start offensively, Ma’Ane Mosley played good defense throughout and finished with 14 points and seven rebounds.
“At times we took some bad shots and didn’t attack the basket but we’ve been playing great defense,” said St. Mary’s head coach Nate Fripp. “Every team has to have an identity and ours is defense.”
Sacramento (23-9) went several long periods without scoring and had no players in double-figures. The Dragons got eight points, 15 rebounds and four blocks from Arizona State-bound Ayanna Edwards.
Carondelet (Concord) 85, Sacred Heart Cathedral (San Francisco) 70
In a re-match of a West Coast Jamboree Platinum Division opening round 85-60 win by Carondelet, the score was a little closer, and the No. 2 seed and host Cougars even trailed in the first half, but the outcome was the same.
Nebraska-bound Natalie Romeo had 28 points to lead three girls in double-figure scoring. Kim Savio came off the bench to score a career-high 17 points, and Loyola Marymount-bound Makenzie Cast added 15 points.
Sacred Heart Cathedral (23-9) played without West Catholic Athletic League Co-Player of the Year and University of Pacific-bound Geanna Summers-Luaulu, who is out with a knee injury. The seventh-seeded Irish got 21 points on five 3-pointers from Gabbi Vigil, 18 points from Iimar’I Thomas and 14 from A’shanti Coleman.
Carondelet (28-3) will now host Miramonte on Tuesday at De La Salle in Concord, in a game the Cal-Hi Sports Caravan plans on attending.
Salesian (Richmond) 64, St. Ignatius (San Francisco) 55
St. Ignatius led early, and the game was tied 26-26 at halftime, but in the end the hosts and No. 5 seed had no answer for the Mariya Moore express. The Louisville-bound Moore went for 35 points. Colorado-bound Zoe Correal had a double-double 12 points and 11 rebounds for the No. 4 seed that had to travel to the fifth-seeded CCS Open Division champions.
St. Ignatius (26-5) got 12 points from Quinci Mann.
Salesian (28-6) will now meet Berkeley St. Mary’s for the fifth time this season in what is now an all North Coast Section final four in the NorCal Open semifinals.
Etiwanda 69, Clovis West (Fresno) 40
The visitors from Fresno drove 260 miles only to get routed by the top team from the Inland Empire.
Etiwanda (21-6) just had too much size for Clovis West to handle.
Four girls scored in double figures for Etiwanda head coach Anders Anderson. Cherice Harris led all scorers with 17 points while McKynzie Fort had 11. Daeja Smith and Amy Okonkwo not only tallied in double digits, 12 and 11 respectively, but their presence in the paint forced Clovis West into difficult shots and contributed to the girls from the Central Section committing 25 turnovers.
Clovis West finishes with a 27-4 record.
Fourth-seeded Etiwanda now travels to Los Angeles on Tuesday to face top-seeded Windward.
Long Beach Poly 70, Bishops (La Jolla) 26
The visitors from the San Diego Section played without freshman sensation Destiny Littleton, and even with her they were in “BIG trouble” as Bishop’s head coach Marlon Wells told Cal-Hi Sports earlier in the week before Littleton rolled her ankle in practice on Thursday.
“We got the you-know-what kicked out of us,” Wells texted after the waxing by Poly.
Third-seeded Poly (24-3) led 19-2 in the first quarter, and was up 48-12 at halftime. UCLA-bound Lajahna Drummer led Poly with a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds. Freshman Ayanna Clark had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting.
Bishop’s finishes 27-6 and for Wells and the Knights it was still a great season.
Poly now moves into the semifinals rolling against a host and No. 2 seed Mater Dei team that has only played three games since February 12, and that could be a problem.
Lou is back
The 11-day layoff since losing to Windward in the CIFSS Open Division title game has Mater Dei head coach Kevin Kiernan worried but at least he will have Ms. Basketball candidate, USA U16 team member, and junior phenom Katie Lou Samuelson back in the lineup against Long Beach Poly.
Lou, who wrenched her elbow after getting tangled up with Kristen Simon in the loss to Windward, practiced on Thursday for the first time.
“Unless there’s a setback in practice she’ll play. She’s a trooper. She wants to play,” Kiernan told Cal-Hi Sports.
As for playing so few games Kiernan responded. “No sour grapes on our end but it hurts the quality of basketball.”