WCAL splits Open debut

The first night of the Central Coast Section's Open Division saw the West Catholic Athletic League go 2-2, including Mitty's 47-26 win over Pinewood and Wilcox's 49-44 victory against St. Ignatius at Oak Grove High School. A pair of junior recruits led the way to open up the eight team bracket.
In the first game of the night, Wilcox posted a five point win after building a double digit lead in the first half. The Chargers rely heavily on the inside presence of Joeseta Fatuesi, who caught the ball in the post and was also able to catch the ball when St. Ignatius fronted her. The Chargers also pounded the glass for multiple shot attempts and were able to get to the line with high frequency in the first half (7-for-15). They struggled some when St. Ignatius extended its defense, but were able to score enough in the half court.
Wilcox played a 2-3 zone against St. Ignatius and was able to keep the Wildcats' ball handlers out of the lane. St. Ignatius went 6-for-20 from downtown, but suffered too many dry spells from the field. St. Ignatius missed five straight field goals in the second quarter, seven straight to open the second half and made just one of its first nine shots in the final quarter. St. Ignatius had the advantage in depth (outscoring Wilcox 23-0 in bench production), but never seemed to develop a rotation, especially with sophomore Sydney Raggio picking up two early fouls.
Mitty followed up game one by holding Pinewood scoreless for nearly the first 14 minutes of the game en route to the blowout win. The Monarchs were propelled early by junior wing Kelli Hayes, who knocked down a trio of mid-range pull-up jumpers and they shot just shy of 50 percent in the first half overall with good ball and player movement. Senior point guard Vanessa Garner played, but is still working her way back from an ACL injury and suffered food poisoning on Friday while Nia Jai Craig was out. She is expected to be fine, Mitty head coach Sue Phillips said.
Pinewood is ranked No. 3 in Division V and should do fine in the Division V NorCal regionals, but it struggled against the defense of Mitty. The Monarchs were active and aware of the Pinewood shooters. The Panthers don't have a marquee player, but Marissa Hing finished with eight points. As a team, they finished with one field goal in the first half with 14 turnovers.
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Hayes showed herself as an elite athlete who has a developing mid-range game. She was able to spread the floor, go left and pull up from around the free throw line. She was also a tough driver from the free throw line and scored 13 points on eight shots in the first half. She finished with 17 points.
Emily Dinger of Mitty had eight points in making two three-pointers. It wasn't a great shooting night for the Brown bound guard, but she is a quality shooter who can get her shots from different areas on the floor.
Fatuesi had a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds. She is able to create space and has touch around the basket. How she fits in athletically and on defense will determine which level she ends up at. She is a matchup problem for every team in this bracket.
Raggio didn't get much run, but she is a good rebounder who finds openings well on offense. She went 3-for-9 from the field. She moves well and projects as one of the top sophomores in the region.
There were a couple of other underclassmen who impressed including Mitty freshman guard Kaliya Grifin, who had 10 points in working well off her dribble as a reserve. Wilcox sophomore D'airren Jackson is a 6-foot-0 wing who has a good activity level and rebounds well. Her offensive is raw, but there is plenty of potential there. Pinewood 5-foot-10 freshman Chloe Eackles is a player to remember for the Panthers. She had a good baseline take in the first half and finished with five points.
San Jose State and UC Davis were in attendance.