The St. Ignatius of San Francisco front line duo leads the Wildcats to Monday’s Platinum Division semifinals. State No. 2 St. Mary’s of Stockton also cruises in Saturday opener but No. 9 Brea Olinda is stunned and loses first game of the season.
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The Cal-Hi Sports No. 6 ranked St. Ignatius of San Francisco girls didn’t go to their own Sand Dunes tournament this year to compete in the 15th Annual West Coast Jamboree, and so far the decision has paid some dividends for the college-bound laden squad.
St. Ignatius (8-0) overcame a sluggish start that led to an early deficit to run by a shorthanded McClatchy of Sacramento 56-38 on Saturday in a Platinum Division opening round victory.
UC San Diego-committed Joleen Yang led all scorers with 16 points (three 3-pointers) but early in the second quarter with McClatchy leading 9-6 it was the front line duo of 6-foot-3 Columbia-bound Josie Little and 6-foot-1 St. Mary’s-committed Sydney Raggio that took charge and led a 30-9 run that pretty much sealed the deal midway through the third quarter.
In limited action after the big run, Little finished with nine points, seven rebounds and three each in blocks, assists and steals. Raggio only had six points but snagged 12 rebounds. Smith College-bound Erin Hanley added eight points.
McClatchy (4-4) was led by Gigi Garcia with 12 points. The Lions, considered one of the top teams in the preseason in the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section, are without center Destiny Lee (foot) and sophomore guard Jordan Cruz, who has foot problems.
In other games played on Saturday in the first busy day of the annual event, which this year has brought 128 teams to the East Bay, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland (2-6) dropped a 68-57 Platinum Division contest to Cal-Hi Sports No. 4 ranked Chaminade of West Hills.
The Dragons have played about as tough a schedule as you can at this point, but without Cal-bound Asha Thomas and her leadership the Dragons haven’t really been blown out but they just can’t seem to win games despite being competitive, and that’s just what happened against Chaminade.
“There’s a chance I might be able to play this season,” said Thomas before the start of the Chaminade game who has been out all season with a knee injury.
Despite being shorthanded themselves, the girls from the San Fernando Valley were clearly the better team. Chaminade (9-1) also came in not having a game in almost three weeks but was still without one of its two top stars.
Team Taurasi summer standout and 6-foot-1 transfer Leaonna “Neah” Odom rested a sore knee, but according to Chaminade head coach Kelli Dimuro, the ESPN No. 1 rated wing from the class of 2016 will be ready to go on Monday against St. Ignatius in the semifinals.
Despite a slow start, 6-foot-1 Valerie Higgins took charge when she had to in a game Chaminade led by as many as 20 points in the early fourth quarter. The ESPN No. 5 rated junior wing had 13 points, eight rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore guard Melissa Wright, the little sister of 2012 David “Scoop” Jackson Platinum Division MVP and former Chaminade and current UC Santa Barbara star MiChael Wright, led all scorers with 20 points. Relentless bulldog-like senior point guard Paige Fecske had a superb game. She finished with 16 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals.
O’Dowd got a solid game from Myah Pace. The sophomore wing had 12 points, 15 rebounds and four assists. Kansas-bound Aisia Robertson led the Dragons with 15 points and Aerial Chavarin added 13 points.
Cal-Hi Sports No. 2 ranked St. Mary’s of Stockton (7-1) rolled into the Jamboree’s Platinum Division fresh off a third-place finish in the top division of the Nike Tournament of Champions in Phoenix, and the green machine juggernaut continued to roll in a first round 87-30 blowout of an Upper Room Christian (Dix Hills , New York) team the Rams led 37-6 after one quarter.
The starters only played about a quarter but the defensive press and ball movement offense produced 10 steals and six assists for junior Mi’Cole Cayton. St. Mary’s 6-foot-1 freshman sensation Aquira DeCosta and sophomore guard Naje Murray led the way with 14 points apiece. Junior Carlissa Shipp hit four 3-pointers for her 12 points and junior star Kat Tudor barely played but had eight points with a couple of threes.
St. Mary’s now meets South Medford of Medford, Oregon in the semis. The girls from up north won a hard fought 62-59 decision over Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco.
After first-round results, three of the top six teams in the Cal-Hi Sports Top 20 have advanced to the semifinals.
St. Mary’s of Berkeley advances with comeback win
It was looking like Cal-Hi Sports No. 12 St. Mary’s (Berkeley) was on the ropes in its opening round game with previously-ranked Vanden of Fairfield, but after being down by as many as 12 points and eight with five minutes left, the Panthers rallied for a 58-53 victory.
“We got a couple of stops, and then we set up the press and got some steals. We’d get fouled off the steal and were in the bonus and got to the line,” St. Mary’s head coach Nate Fripp said. “That happened a couple of times and the lead was erased.”
Cal-bound Ma’Ane Mosley, who is bigger and stronger in her senior season, had a couple of key baskets down the stretch and finished with 13 points. Kennedi Villa had 12 points and Zavanna Negron hit two late key free throws and chipped in with 10 points.
St. Mary’s (7-2) now faces Bishop Manogue of Reno, Nevada. Manogue (6-1) was a 47-45 upset winner over Cal-Hi Sports No. 9 Brea-Olinda of Brea.
On the other side of the bracket is a Carondelet (Concord) team that was a surprisingly easy 60-42 winner over Berkeley. Carondelet (7-1) came into the Jamboree with a lone 42-37 loss to Cal-Hi Sports No. 11 Redondo Union of Redondo Beach.
The Cougars meet Sacramento in the other semifinal. Sacramento (5-3) was a 52-49 winner over Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa.
The semifinals of the third of the three elite divisions of this year’s Jamboree also are set.
Brookside Christian (Stockton) will be facing South Torrance (Torrance) in one semi and Lincoln of Stockton squares off in the other semi against Prairie of Bush Prairie, Washington.
Brookside Christian (7-1) was a 74-63 winner over Salesian of Richmond. Junior star Aarion McDonald was on fire and had one of the highest individual scoring performances in Jamboree history after finishing with 46 points. Minyon Moore led Salesian (7-2) with 20 points.
South Torrance (9-1) was a 78-38 winner over Heritage of Brentwood.
Undefeated Lincoln (7-0) was an impressive 69-43 winner over Clayton Valley of Concord.
Prairie (4-4) defeated Gold Division host Deer Valley-Antioch 60-42.
Harold Abend is the associate editor of CalHiSports.com and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at email@example.com. Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend