Girls BB: St. Mary’s MLK Day 2 Statement Wins For Cards, Lions

Four State Top 20 teams were in action on MLK Day in the second day of action in Stockton at the St. Mary’s MLK Showcase and two won and two lost, one to a nationally-ranked team, and one team on the bubble squad making its case to join the next rankings. Also, four San Diego Section teams were in action once again only this time unlike on Saturday when three of them won, on MLK Day three lost.

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Two Northern California teams showed they are rounding into shape at just the right time during Monday’s action at the St. Mary’s MLK Showcase held in Stockton as Cal-Hi Sports State No. 20 McClatchy (Sacramento) and bubble team Cardinal Newman of Santa Rosa both came up with impressive wins

Cardinal Newman head coach Monica Mertle gives instructions to her team during game against La Jolla Country Day. Photo: Harold Abend.

McClatchy (18-3) epitomized the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde syndrome that is now seemingly the norm among a lot of ranked teams, and head coach Jeff Ota and his girls looked nothing like the Lions team that was mauled by Heritage of Brentwood last week at the Elite Is Earned New Year Classic at Orinda Miramonte.

After suffering a 29-point defeat to Heritage the Saturday before last, the Sacramento girls turned it around in their game against bubble team Cathedral Catholic (San Diego) and notched a very impressive 70-44 victory that wasn’t as close as the score indicates.

University of Washington-committed Nia Lowery didn’t even have her best game but the 5-foot-11 senior wing still tied for team high with 21 points plus eight rebounds and three assists.

Junior forward Samaya Beatty was aggressive on both ends of the court and equaled the 21 points of Lowery while adding five rebounds, four steals and three assists.

Senior wing and West Point-bound Kamryn Hall had a very solid game and finished with 10 points and nine rebounds plus three steals and two assists.

Cathedral Catholic (15-6) was coming off a win over West Campus of Sacramento on Saturday’s MLK Showcase action but on MLK Day the young Dons’ girls were no match against an experienced group of McClatchy girls.

The Dons got a very good performance from a freshman that turned some heads among the college coaches and analysts both on Saturday and on Monday, and that’s Isuneh “Ice” Brady. The 6-foot-3 post had a double-double 27 points and 10 rebounds, and even drained a three-pointer.

The problem in this game for Cathedral head coach Jackie Turpin is no other player had more than five points.

One of the best games and most interesting match-ups both of teams and players was previous week State Top 20 bubble teams Cardinal Newman (Santa Rosa) and La Jolla Country Day going at it with junior stars Te-Hina Paopao of Country Day and Anya Choice of Newman putting on a show.

The 5-foot-11 Paopao, who is finally back in action after enduring more injuries again this season that forced her to miss eight games in two separate stints, is still not 100 percent, but she still looked splendid and had a slight personal advantage over Choice.

Paopao, who was the focus of a lot of college coaches in attendance, and who was coming off a 32-point performance on Saturday in a defeat of host St. Mary’s, had a double-double 24 points on four three-pointers with 12 rebounds, plus four blocked shots.

Choice, a 5-foot-8 combo guard who one college coach noted “is looking like one of the most improved players in California,” had a double-double 22 points and 10 rebounds with four assists.

While Paopao and Choice kind of evened things out between them, the difference in this game was the output of other players. Country Day had the only other player in double figure scoring with the 12 points of Jazzy Anousinh, but they got creamed on the boards, and particularly in the fourth quarter. In fact, besides Paopao, the rest of the team only had seven rebounds combined.

Overall, Cardinal Newman (18-4) had a 43-22 advantage on the boards despite not playing anyone over 5-foot-9 in the game. Aysia Dural, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, only had nine points, but she had 10 rebounds, with four of them and a blocked shot coming in the final period. Junior guard Christina Bacci had seven points and seven rebounds. Junior guard Emma Nordby had seven rebounds, and Hawaii Pacific-bound senior team leader Avery Cargill chipped in with five points, six rebounds and three assists.

Prior to the game Newman head coach Monica Mertle had said she would likely use Cargill to guard Paopao to avoid foul trouble for Choice, but with the Country Day star having her will early on a switch was made.

Te-Hina PaoPao shoots a free throw for La Jolla Country during game vs. Cardinal Newman. Photo: Harold Abend.

“I told coach ‘please, please let me guard her,” Choice said.

And as for what the experience was like?

“It was fun. I loved it,” responded Choice. “I look forward to going against a player like that to prove I’m at that caliber.”

Choice might not be at quite the level of Paopao but interest in her is warming up.

As for Cardinal Newman, there is a good possibility the Cardinals may be a newcomer in this week’s rankings.

The marquee game of the day that pitted state No. 11 Bishop Montgomery (Torrance) against nationally-ranked Nevada Centennial of Las Vegas started out looking like the Southern California girls who were coming off a 62-49 win on Saturday over No. 9 Salesian of Richmond at the Bishop O’Dowd MLK Classic in Oakland, were going to make a game of it, but two of the Knights’ top three players got in foul trouble in the second quarter and that spelled disaster in a 77-55 defeat.

Bishop Montgomery (18-5) only trailed 24-20 midway through the second quarter when UC Irvine-bound guard Kayla Williams and sophomore sensation and transfer Khylee Pepe both picked up their third fouls against a Centennial team known for its aggressiveness on defense.

From there, Centennial went on a 21-2 run that was later extended to 31-6 and it was lights out.

Williams still finished with 18 points and three assists, Pepe had a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds with four steals, while Kayla Padilla, who couldn’t shoulder the load herself during the long run, had 11 points and five rebounds.

Nevada No. 1 and nationally ranked Centennial (19-1) got a double-double 20 points and 12 rebounds from Arizona State-bound Eboni Walker, a double-double 15 points and 11 rebounds from junior Daejah Phillips, 14 points from sophomore Taylor Bigby, and 10 points off the bench from senior Aja Phoumiphat.

After losing big to La Jolla Country Day on Saturday, a very young host St. Mary’s took it on the chin again against a seasoned Etiwanda group of girls in a 75-42 victory by the state No. 10 Eagles over the previous No. 14 ranked Rams after the Inland Empire girls turned a 9-4 early deficit around with a 17-4 run and drew away from there.

Etiwanda (19-3) got a monster game from Evanne Turner. The UC Davis-bound senior dropped in six three-pointers and finished with 33 points with five rebounds, four steals and three assists.

St. Mary’s (14-6) had two girls in double-figure scoring. Grand Canyon-committed Jada Moss had 15 points and junior Amaya Oliver, who recently returned from missing all of last season and the first half of this season with a knee injury, added 10 points.

In other games Mark Keppel of Alhambra made 14 three-point shots with 10 coming in the first half to overwhelm a Bishop’s of La Jolla team in a surprising 85-61 victory over a Knights’ team that was a winner over state No. 18 St. Joseph Notre Dame on Saturday. Senior point guard Vanessa Aguirre, who surprisingly has no college offers, ran the show and finished with 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three steals. Bishop’s got a strong outing from Renee Chong. The freshman guard made six three-pointers and finished with 31 points.

Fairmont Prep of Anaheim won the early morning game on MLK Day with a 60-45 victory over Stockton Lincoln. Mission Hills got 21 points, eight rebounds, three blocks, three assists and three steals from Cal State-Fullerton-bound Kathryn Neff. And finally in the nightcap, Vanden of Fairfield was a 48-41 winner over the local girls from Edison of Stockton.

Harold Abend is the associate editor of and the vice president of the California Prep Sportswriters Association. He can be reached at Don’t forget to follow him on Twitter: @HaroldAbend

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