Big winners on the final day of the St. Mary’s MLK Showcase in Stockton include the host and state No. 2 Rams, state No. 13 La Jolla Country and bubble team McClatchy of Sacramento, which upset state No. 11 Sierra Canyon. State No. 5 Salesian of Richmond lost again and so did state No. 7 Harvard-Westlake, but the Wolverines’ loss was to nationally ranked Las Vegas Centennial.
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Going up against one of the tallest front lines in the nation, including 6-foot-8 Andrea Aquino, seemed to bring out the best of Stockton St. Mary’s Ms. Basketball State Player of the Year candidate Aquira DeCosta in her team’s matchup against Ribet Academy of Los Angeles during one of the featured games in Monday’s St. Mary’s MLK Showcase.
DeCosta showed superior athleticism and jumping skills not just when she was guarding Aquino but also in situations against 6-foot-4 Maria Pendande and 6-foot-3 Janette Mensah and that was one reason why the Rams rolled past the Fighting Frogs 68-51. The 6-foot-2 senior who is headed to Baylor racked up 21 points, nine rebounds, four blocks and four steals.
St. Mary’s, which won in its Saturday game at the MLK Showcase over nationally ranked Centennial of Las Vegas, improved to 16-2 and will be No. 2 in this week’s state rankings. State No. 1 Archbishop Mitty also won on Monday in a home game against Carondelet of Concord 63-49 and will stay No. 1 this week.
It wasn’t DeCosta’s play that was the only reason the Rams took a 22-11 lead after the first quarter and were up 36-22 at halftime. Princeton-bound sharpshooter Neenah Young once again heated up from beyond the 3-point line and scored all 18 of her points in the first half.
Ribet, which won on Saturday 60-44 against Heritage of Brentwood, fell to 20-3 overall. The Fighting Frogs were tough on both ends of the court with their rebounding, but couldn’t match St. Mary’s depth and shot-making.
In other MLK St. Mary’s Showcase games on Monday with state ranking implications:
Centennial (Las Vegas) 59, Harvard-Westlake (N. Hollywood) 49
This clearly would qualify as a quality loss for the Wolverines, who followed up their win from Saturday over state No. 5 Salesian of Richmond with a more than respectable showing against Centennial.
Head coach Karen Weitz’s girls from Vegas, who were No. 21 in one national poll coming into the weekend, slowly pulled away in the second half after the two teams were deadlocked 26-26. Justice Ethridge led the way for the Bulldogs with 18 points.
Harvard-Westlake was No. 7 in the state entering the weekend and will move up next week despite the loss. The Wolverines got another solid outing from freshman Kiki Iriafen with 14 points.
Bishop Alemany (Mission Hills) 51, Salesian (Richmond) 38
A 21-8 run in the first quarter by the Warriors gave them an edge that the cold-shooting Pride just wasn’t able to overcome.
Salesian’s loss on Saturday to Harvard-Westlake wasn’t that bad because it was a close game and both teams were in the top seven of the most recent state rankings. Alemany, however, wasn’t in the State Top 20 due primarily to a loss to Ribet Academy so this is a loss that will hurt.
Sophomore Kimberly Villalobos had a breakout game for the Warriors as she finished with a game-high 18 points. Senior forward Jasmine Hardy, a key holdover from last year, added 15 points. The Warriors also looked good in an easy win on Saturday against defending CIF D2 state champion Vanden of Fairfield.
The Pride (11-4) tried to stay close with their inside players, but Makayla Edwards (11 points) and Angel Jackson (10 points) just couldn’t do enough.
La Jolla Country Day 62, Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) 58 (OT)
These two squads showed that their state ranking from last week — No. 13 for the Torreys and No. 12 for the Cardinals — were just about spot on. The difference was that Country Day converted its free throws while the Cardinals didn’t get many free throws and missed just enough of them to make a difference.
Paris Atchley connected on two free throws with 9.7 seconds left to lift La Jolla Country Day into a 50-50 tie. Atchley then hit the big bucket in the overtime as her 3-pointer opened up a 55-50 lead for the Torreys. They continued to draw fouls and make free throws during the rest of the overtime period.
Cardinal Newman had a chance to tie the score on a 3-pointer with 14 seconds left, but the attempt was blocked by freshman guard Jazz Anousinh. An extra made free throw after that accounted for the final four-point margin.
La Jolla Country Day is playing the entire season without sophomore point guard sensation Te-Hina Paopao, who tore her ACL in the first scrimmage.
“It does give the opportunity for younger players to develop,” said LJCD head coach Terri Bamford, whose team improved to 12-4. “We are continuing to improve without her and we’re plugging along while starting to get some good wins.”
Four Torrey players reached double-figures in the win: Keira Oakry (14 points), Bianaca Notarainni (12 points), Anousinh (12 points) and Atchley (10 points).
Cardinal Newman (14-4) is still two weeks from being able to play its first home game due to damage from the recent North Bay wildfires and still has the ingredients to be a factor in the CIF North Coast Section Division III playoffs along with Salesian (Richmond) and Campolindo (Moraga).
The Cardinals don’t have the size they did from the last two seasons, but three-year starters Maiya Flores, Tal Webb and Avery Cargill are still outstanding from the perimeter. Webb had 12 points on Monday but fouled out in the final minutes. Senior Arie Searcy and sophomore Anya Choice both led Cardinal Newman with 14 points.
McClatchy (Sacramento) 62, Sierra Canyon (Chatsworth) 59
This one qualifies as the upset of the day since Sierra Canyon was No. 11 in last week’s state rankings and won on Saturday night over a Folsom squad that was No. 6 and also was runner-up at the West Coast Jamboree in the Platinum Division.
McClatchy had a blowout loss to No. 1 Mitty and several other questionable results, but on this night had its full lineup of healthy players and kept answering Sierra Canyon’s runs.
The Trailblazers trailed 49-45 at the end of the third quarter and never led in the fourth quarter. They got it to within 51-50 and then 61-59 with 38.5 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Angela Bacoulis. McClatchy only made one free throw with 18 seconds left and there was another 3-point attempt with five seconds left by Sierra Canyon’s Ryann Payne that missed.
Head coach Jeff Ota said his team had been hampered the past four weeks without 6-foot junior forward Kamryn Hall, who was out with an ankle injury. He also said it “probably” was his team’s best outing of the season so far and that the girls wanted to make a statement by beating a ranked opponent and especially a ranked opponent that had just beaten Folsom, which has been the No. 1 ranked team in the Sacramento area all season.
Sierra Canyon (14-4) still may be ranked higher than the Lions due to its win over Folsom and other quality wins during the season so far, including those against Ribet Academy, Serra of Gardena, Lone Star of Frisco (Texas) and Etiwanda. Head coach Alicia Komaki’s team also will be taking on state No. 3 Windward Academy in its next game.
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