The title game of Tuesday’s Platinum Division at the West Coast Jamboree matched the early leaders in Northern California girls basketball and saw youthful St. Mary’s of Stockton defeat senior-laden St. Ignatius of San Francisco. Check inside for highlights from some of the other champions in other divisions at this year’s Jamboree.
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There were times during Tuesday night’s title game of the Platinum Division at the West Coast Jamboree of what one might expect to see when a battle-hardened group of seniors who’ve been playing together for several years go up against a team with sophomores and freshmen playing key roles.
St. Ignatius of San Francisco features the all-senior starting lineup and mistakes against the feared St. Mary’s of Stockton press were not quite as frequent as the usual opponents of the Rams.
Still, the Wildcats couldn’t match St. Mary’s depth and quickness and dropped their first game of the season 60-51 at Los Positas College in Livermore.
The Rams, sitting at No. 2 overall in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings, improved to 9-1 with their only loss coming to Blackman of Tennessee in the semifinals of the Nike Tournament of Champions held in Arizona.
St. Ignatius fell to 9-1 and could not generate the splash that a win over St. Mary’s would have had. The Wildcats were ranked No. 6 in the most recent State Top 20, but on Monday night knocked off No. 5 Chaminade of West Hills so despite losing on Tuesday should still move up in the next rankings.
“Their offensive rebounding was the difference,” said St. Ignatius head coach Mike Mulkerrins. “I thought we did a good job passing the ball but we didn’t shoot well. Their pressure was partly responsible for that but still we didn’t shoot well.”
The Wildcats had the Rams in a 27-27 tie at halftime and slowly fell behind when both freshman Aquira DeCosta and junior Angel Johnson each scored twice off of offensive rebounds. Freshman Ariel Johnson also scored on a twisting layup to help St. Mary’s build a 49-37 lead heading into the final quarter.
St. Ignatius had the deficit cut down to 55-49 with just more than one minute left but came no closer. A free throw by Acosta and a driving layup by junior point guard Mi’Cole Cayton with 25 seconds left sealed the win.
Cayton had a series of strong outings during the event and had 16 points with five steals and four assists for the Rams. She was named the Scoop Jackson MVP Award winner for the division.
DeCosta, who easily can be compared as a freshman to both Jacki Gemelos and Chelsea Gray (the school’s two Cal-Hi Sports Ms. Basketball State Players of the Year) in terms of being an elite player, had 14 points and 17 rebounds.
Angel Johnson had nine points and 16 rebounds and joined DeCosta and Cayton on the all-tourney team. Kat Tudor was the team’s other all-tourney pick. She had just eight points on Tuesday but was hitting her shots on Monday and on Saturday when the tourney began.
“For some reason, I thought we came out flat,” said St. Mary’s head coach Tom Gonsalves. “I got on them at halftime and to their credit they snapped out of it. We also moved our press around a bit and they had more trouble with it.”
It was a strange win in some respects for St. Mary’s because the team only made one three-point shot.
“In a way, that’s great news,” Gonsalves said. “It shows when we win and are successful that we can win in other ways.”
Sydney Raggio was the beneficiary of the times when St. Ignatius did break the press and got layups. The senior forward finished with 17 points and pulled down seven rebounds.
“We should still feel good about the week,” Mulkerrins added. “We can still work on some things and get better. I’d love to play them again and I’d love it if it came in the NorCal Open Division final.”
Third Place Platinum Division:
Chaminade (West Hills) 64, South Medford (Ore.) 57
The Eagles returned to the Northern California event after winning it all in the Platinum Division in 2012. They went home at 10-2 after a loss to St. Ignatius in Monday’s semifinals but with a win over one of the perennial powers of the Northwest.
The Eagles didn’t let the Panthers get any closer. Sophomore guard Isabel Newman hit a layup, got fouled and made a free throw with 2:27 left. Junior guard Valerie Higgins then iced the win with another twisting layup with 2:00 remaining.
Higgins only scored seven points but had 15 rebounds and five assists to earn all-tourney honors. Chaminade’s leading scorer was senior Paige Fecske with 13 points.
“It was not hard to focus on this game at all,” said Chaminade standout junior Neah Odom when asked about being in a third-place game as opposed to the championship. “Wins and losses still determines playoff seeding and you just have to push through these types of games.”
Like many other players, Odom also is glad to be in a tournament like the West Coast Jamboree before getting into what will be a tough schedule in the CIF Southern Section’s Mission League.
“There are no easy games for us in league,” Odom said. “The competition will be great and this tournament should help us a lot.”
Championship Ruby Division
Granada (Livermore) 58, Florin (Sacramento) 51
Delaney Gill-Sommerhauser topped the Matadors (8-4) with 25 points and was named the division’s MVP. Teammate Grace Naylor also had a strong week. She hit for 29 points in a semifinal win against Fresno High and made 13-of-13 from the free throw line.
Championship Diamond Division
Carondelet (Concord) 68, Bishop Manogue (Reno) 51
Before the event began, a previously unreported win by the Cougars over Mission Hills of San Marcos came to light and now that they’ve won the second elite division of the Jamboree we’ll have to jump up the 8-1 team guided by new head coach Elijah Leslie very high in next week’s updated State Top 20.
Bishop Manogue also was the team that knocked off previously unbeaten and state No. 9 Brea Olinda in last Saturday’s first-round of the Diamond Division.
Point guard Marcella Hughes, a Loyola commit, was the MVP of the division for Carondelet. The scoring, however, was very balanced with Vanessa Cruz (11 points), Katie Rathbun (11 points) and Kim Sorio (10 points) all finding the range at various times during the final.
Championship Gold Division
Brookside Christian (Stockton) 70, Prairie (Brush Prairie, Wash.) 58
St. Mary’s may not be the only Stockton school to watch in the State Top 20 this season. The Knights won a Gold Division title at the Jamboree that also included defending NorCal Open Division champ Salesian of Richmond.
With Washington-bound Aarion McDonald scoring 46 points in a tourney-opening win over Salesian, new coach Pico Wilburn’s team never looked back and beat a solid squad from Washington in the final.
After scoring 46 in that first round game, McDonald had 21 in a 66-50 win over South of Torrance in the semifinals and then 34 in the final against Prairie.
Brookside Christian also won its ninth straight game since a season-opening 52-48 loss to Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco. SHC by the way won the fifth-place game of the Jamboree’s Platinum Division on Tuesday over Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland.
Harold Abend contributed to this post. Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports