State and national girls hoops No. 1 St. Mary’s of Stockton loses out on bid to repeat as CIF Open Division champions with upset loss to Pinewood of Los Altos Hills on Tuesday night. Pinewood will now try to take down another unbeaten team in Saturday’s NorCal final.
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So how crazy was the 72-69 upset win by Pinewood of Los Altos Hills over St. Mary’s of Stockton that took place on Tuesday night at Delta College’s Joe Blanchard Gym?
•St. Mary’s was 28-0 coming off of a 2014-15 season in which it won the CIF Open Division state championship with just about every player back.
•St. Mary’s was riding a 57-game winning streak, third longest in Northern California history, according to the Cal-Hi Sports state records.
•St. Mary’s was the state’s No. 1 team since the preseason and was a consensus No. 1 team for the nation since winning top honors at the Nike Tournament of Champions in December in Arizona.
•Pinewood entered the night at No. 7 in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings and with a record of 22-5. This includes a 79-60 loss less than two weeks ago to Archbishop Mitty of San Jose in the CIF Central Coast Section Open Division finals. And just think about this: One of Pinewood’s other losses was on a last-second shot 73-71 in overtime to Brookside Christian of Stockton, which earlier this week lost 109-41 to Miramonte (Orinda).
•St. Mary’s had won its first-round game in the NorCal Open Division 89-65 over Carondelet of Concord while Pinewood topped Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland 50-45.
•Then in the game itself, St. Mary’s assumed a 49-39 lead in the third quarter and seemed ready to go on a spurt like it has against so many others to give the opponent no hope.
But all of those things went out the window at the end of the night in Stockton. That can happen when you have a team guided by a head coach, Doc Scheppler, who is well-known, even beyond the California girls basketball community, as one of the best shooting coaches in the business.
According to the San Jose Mercury-News, the Panthers came back by hitting trademark 3-pointers. They actually were making them with regularity since the first quarter, finishing with 15 as a team and shooting 55 percent on those shots for the game.
Coinciding with Pinewood’s hot shooting and ability to beat the Rams’ press better than most, St. Mary’s went cold at just the wrong time. The combination fueled a 30-12 run by the Panthers after the score was 49-39. Still, the Rams showed their mettle by whittling down a 69-61 advantage to just three points in the game’s final minute. They just weren’t able to get any closer.
Erin Poindexter-McHan banged in six 3-pointers and had 22 points for Pinewood before leaving the game with 3:55 left with a sprained ankle. Freshman teammate Hannah Jump, clearly one of the best Class of 2019 players in the state, also nailed six 3-pointers and also had 22 points. Calling them the Splash Sisters would only be accurate if you are referring to just about everyone on Scheppler’s team who can take and make 3-pointers.
Super sophomore Aquira DeCosta took advantage of her height advantage inside and led the Rams with 26 points. She’ll be back next season, but a stellar group of seniors, including all-state candidates Mi’Cole Cayton and Kat Tudor, will be departing.
Is it the biggest upset in girls basketball in state history? It wasn’t a CIF state final so you’d have to include the upset by Oak Ridge of El Dorado Hills in 2010 over Long Beach Poly that prevented the Jackrabbits from winning their fifth straight state title at least in the conversation.
But considering Pinewood’s incoming resume, what St. Mary’s was trying to accomplish and that the Rams were looking good to at least get to a NorCal showdown this weekend against unbeaten Miramonte, yes it can be argued that Pinewood’s upset was that earth-shattering. There are certainly no other upsets of undefeated teams that were No. 1 in the state the previous season that were found in a quick scan of final state rankings since 1975.
Poindexter-McHan also said afterward she hoped to play Saturday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento against Miramonte for the NorCal Open Division title. Miramonte (31-0) has to be favored since it won on Tuesday 71-64 over the same Richmond Salesian team that had upset Mitty in the first round of the bracket.
In Miramonte’s win, All-American guard Sabrina Ionescu had another shining night with 36 points, including 31 in the second half. The Matadors, who were No. 2 in the state entering the week behind St. Mary’s, also were led by seniors Keana delos Santos with 19 points and Uriah Howard with 13 points and 15 rebounds. The Contra Costa Times also reported that Minyon Moore hit for 25 points for Salesian, which ended 27-6 and was No. 8 in the state.
SoCal Open Division:
Chaminade, Long Beach Poly Advance
It wasn’t the top two seeds that moved on into Saturday’s CIF Southern California Open Division championship, but it was the top two ranked teams in the Cal-Hi Sports state rankings as both state No. 3 Chaminade and state No. 4 Long Beach Poly posted impressive wins on Tuesday night.
The St. Mary’s of Stockton loss also resonated with Chaminade’s players, who earlier in the day also learned that both standout seniors Valerie Higgins and Leaonna Odom had been chosen for the Jordan Brand All-American Game.
Those two had a banner night against the CIF San Diego Section Open Division champions. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, Higgins had 21 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and five assists. Odom had 19 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Melissa Wright chipped in with 14.
Emily Nunez hit for 18 points to top Mission Hills, which ended 29-4.
Clovis West (30-4), which was seeded second by the CIF section commissioners, trailed for most the game against Long Beach Poly and took a short-lived 43-42 lead with 3:40 remaining.
According to the Fresno Bee, however, head coach Carl Buggs’ girls regained their edge on a layup by Da’Jah Jackson and then a putback by Ayanna Clark. Clovis West (ranked No. 6 in the state) only scored one point the rest of the way.
In the CIF Southern Section Open Division final when Chaminade played Long Beach Poly on March 5, the Eagles won 72-63.
Note Regarding Brea Olinda: In another state record twist involving the Stockton St. Mary’s upset, the loss to Pinewood also prevents the Rams from winning their ninth all-time CIF state title. If they had gotten to nine, they would have tied the state record held by Brea Olinda of Brea. The Ladycats, meanwhile, who are not in the Open Division, won their D1 South semifinal game on Tuesday 52-45 over Troy of Fullerton. If Brea (27-4) were to win Saturday in the D1 South final vs. Vista Murrieta and then win the D1 state title, it would push the school’s all-time total to 10. Troy (ranked No. 13 in the state this week) finished 26-7. Brea entered the game right behind in the state rankings at No. 14.
Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at email@example.com. Paul Muyskens is the Stockton office assistant editor and contributed to this post. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports