SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Top-seed Archbishop Mitty-San Jose trailed 42-30 with four minutes left in the third quarter, but from there Mitty went on a 13-0 run to lead 43-42 after three quarters and at that point they had all the momentum.
The fourth quarter was more of the same as the Cal-Hi Sports No. 4 ranked Monarchs took charge in the final period. Mitty extended the lead right up until the final buzzer for an impressive 66-54 Friday victory over No. 2 seed and Cal-Hi Sports 16 Pinewood at the Kaiser Permanente Arena home of the NBA G League Santa Cruz Warriors.
With Mitty facing the 12-point mid third quarter deficit, Seattle University-bound Makayla Moore, who did not start, scored 10 straight points, and when Texas El Paso-bound Siena Guttadauro nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer, the Monarchs were right back in it heading to the final stanza. Moore, who also hit two fourth quarter three-pointers as Mitty was flipping the switch, finished with a team-high 25 points and six rebounds.
“Makayla is instant offense,” said Mitty head coach Sue Phillips. “The fact that she’s staying ready to come into the game and produce like that; I couldn’t be happier for her.”
Sophomore Morgan Cheli, who more often than not gets most of the spotlight time, lit up when asked about her teammate.”
“Makayla really filled it up. She really came alive and we’re so happy for her,” said Cheli.
Moore had her own take on things.
“Our defense got me those points,” Moore said. “Morgan and Haley (Hernandez) were throwing assists to me and that was off our defense.”
“We lost to Pinewood in the CCS finals in and lost seven seniors so this was kind of like our vengeance game,” continued Moore. “We didn’t come out as hot as we wanted but the third quarter, we call it our third quarter because that’s when we bring it.”
Cheli, who leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 15.1 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, only had five points but played great defense with help from Hernandez on Washington-bound Pinewood senior star Elle Ladine. Cheli did snag six rebounds and dished out four assists and had four steals.
Ladine finished with a team-high 18 points (two three-pointers), but from the point Mitty went on its 13-0 run to take the lead, the Monarchs held her scoreless. Ladine did have six assists and four steals, but she came into the game averaging 15.2 rebounds per game and Mitty limited her to six rebounds.
Besides hitting the key three-pointer, Guttadauro had 10 of her 13 points in the second half.
“We knew we had a tall order,” Phillips remarked. “Then when you’re down double digits, it’s just a testament to the kids like Makayla, Elle Hanson came in off the bench and knocked down a big three, Layla Woods came off the bench and grabbed some D boards, April Chan came off the bench and played some great defense, Natalie Anderson. I could go on and on.”
“These kids continue to contribute and give blows to our starting five,” Phillips continued. “This is truly a team and we’re not a one-trick pony.”
The game was back and forth in the first quarter and most of the second quarter with Pinewood leading 16-15 after one, but with around a minute to go in the half Pinewood went on a 17-4 run that turned a 26-25 deficit into a 29-26 halftime lead that stretched to the previously mentioned 42-30 lead with four minutes left in the third.
At that point Mitty (27-1) called a timeout and in the Pinewood huddle head coach Doc Scheppler implored his girls to keep it going.
“This has got to be the best defense you’ve ever played for these last 12 minutes,” Scheppler said.
Instead, it was exactly the opposite.
“The kicked our butts the last 12 minutes.” Scheppler remarked.
These two teams have been at it for a while. It was the seventh straight CCS Open Division match-up between the two teams with Mitty winning the first five and Pinewood snagging last year’s title. According to the Cal-Hi Sports Online Record Book Mitty added to its statewide record for section titles with its 30th championship.
Pinewood (22-2) will almost assuredly be chosen for the CIF state Northern Regional Open Division but where they will be seeded on Sunday may have a lot to do with results of Saturday’s CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division 1 title game match-up between Oak Ridge-El Dorado Hills and Folsom.
Mitty almost assuredly will receive either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed in the Open Regional. The Monarchs lone loss is at the West Coast Jamboree in December to Carondelet-Concord, but since then they have gone undefeated while Carondelet lost a game to San Ramon Valley-Danville.
Carondelet won the rematch with San Ramon Valley in the East Bay Athletic League playoff championship, and then on Friday night in Concord they won the NCS Open title with an impressive 69-49 victory over San Ramon Valley in the rubber match.
“The first or second seed doesn’t matter since the finals are at a neutral site,” Phillips said. “What’s important is getting the first and second round home game.”
That’s almost a lock but we’ll see what the CIF decides when the seedings are announced on Sunday.