Miramonte made the all too familiar trip to Stockton to take on the St. Mary's Rams in the opener of the Open Division playoffs. However, Friday brought a different result in a 94-79 win to set up an all-North Coast Section semi-final.
The biggest win in program history had a little bit of everything for Miramonte. The Matadors got 31 points from sophomore star Sabrina Ionescu, steady games from seniors Megan Reid and Breanna Alford and good bench production from Mariah Seals. It all added up to a 15 point win.
Miramonte controlled the action from the outset in taking a 24-16 lead after the first quarter. Creating a flurry of mistakes and quick buckets with their pressure, the Matadors surged to a double digit lead going into the half up 53-34. St. Mary's trimmed the lead to seven on two occasions in the third quarter, but couldn't get any closer.
"Any key when you play a team like that, you have to withstand runs and that's what we told the kids all week. They are going to keep coming. They are never going to quit. They aren't St. Mary's-Stockton for nothing," Miramonte head coach Kelly Sopak said. "We really responded to runs well. We hit big shots."
Outside of Ionescu's 31 points, Seals had 15 points, Keana Delos Santos 14 and Alford added 13. Sophomore Uriah Howard contributed 12 points off the bench. Miramonte had five different players make three pointers in outscoring the Rams by six points from beyond the arc. Reid also helped direct the offense in showing Miramonte's experience and depth.
"That's the advantage of having seniors is they have been there done that. Physically, they are a little bit stronger. Having someone that has been there is instrumental," Sopak said. "We've got five seniors and you can't measure that in points or rebounds. That's a lot of leadership on the floor"
St. Mary's was led by 23 points from sophomore Kat Tudor. Fellow sophomore Mi'Cole Cayton had 12 points and freshman Sierra Smith had a late flurry to finish with 10 points. Sophomore Sydney Fadal had 11 points off the bench and sophomore Angel Johnson scored nine points as the energy player for the Rams. St. Mary's missed 15 free throws in the loss. It was without expected leaders Charise Holloway and Bri Moore.
It is the second straight year the Matadors and Rams have met up in an Open Division opener at Delta College. The win sets up a game with Carondelet, the North Coast Section Division III champions.
"It's probably the game people have wanted for four years and it's going to be fun to be a part of it," Sopak said "It's going to be much like this one." Douglas Benton
Salesian-St. Mary's set for fifth matchup
When the brackets were released, many people penciled in Salesian and St. Mary's-Berkeley for a fifth meeting. You can now write it in pen after the Pride beat St. Ignatius (64-55) and the Panthers defeated Sacramento (48-32). The Pride were led by 35 points from senior and McDonald's All-American Mariya Moore. Zoe Correal had 12 points and 10 rebounds. Quinci Mann led St. Ignatius in scoring with 12 points. Salesian outscored St. Ignatius 38-29 in the second half.
The No. 1 seed Panthers held Sacramento to 17 points over the first three quarters en route to the 16 point win. McDonald's All-Americans Mikayla Cowling (17 points, 10 rebounds) and Gabby Green (11 points, 15 rebounds, six assists) paced St. Mary's, which also got 14 points from junior Ma'Ane Mosley. Sacramento senior post Ayanna Edwards had eight points and 15 rebounds.
Carondelet returns to old script
After a bit of a shaky start, Natalie Romeo and the Carondelet Cougars advanced in the CIF Girls Open Division with a 85-70 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral on Friday night.
Right away it was evident that Sacred Heart Cathedral was not going to roll over and let the Cougars run all over them, but in the end Romeo's scoring and Carondelet's relentless defensive pressure proved too much to handle.
Romeo, like the rest of her teammates, got off to a shaky start and the Cougars trailed the Fighting Irish 16-15 at the end of one. However, once Romeo found her rhythm, so did the Cougars.
Following a back-and-forth first quarter, Carondelet began to make it's run in the second as it outscored Sacred Heart Cathedral 24-14 and led 39-30 at the break.
Once the teams came out for the second half, the Cougars continued to roll and began to impose their will over the Fighting Irish.
Romeo thrived in the second half as she scored 18 of her game-high 28 points after the break. While Romeo was lighting up the scoreboard, Carondelet's full-court press started to cause Sacred Heart Cathedral fits as the Fighting Irish turned the ball over several times in the third quarter.
Romeo left a strong impression on the game, but she was far from the only one to contribute. Eight different Carondelet players put points on the board and three scored in double digits.
Kim Savio scored 17 points and Mackenzie Cast added 15. The Fighting Irish, led by Gabrielle Vigil's 23 points, also had three players in double digits.
The Cougars have won 14 straight games and will host Miramonte in the regional semi-finals Tuesday. William Boor