T-Girls give them a good run

Petaluma gave third-seed Campolindo a scare for four hard-fought periods before falling to the Lady Cougars, 54-49, in the second round of North Coast Section girls Division III basketball playoffs in Moraga on Friday night.

The T-Girls would not go away, as they hung around near a two-possession deficit throughout the second half. but could never get over the hump. Three times. Petaluma chopped the lead to five points only to be turned away by turnovers when attempting to pass the ball over the Lady Cougar defenders.

An effective box-and-one defense made game conditions very difficult for Campolindo top scorer Ashley Ewing, who was fronted by single coverage guarding by senior Lisa Guptil, and the strategy paid dividends.

"We got a reliable scouting report that indicated that Ewing has averaged 25 shots per game," noted Petaluma coach Doug Johnson, "I think our box-and-one had the best chance to take her out of her game if the girls didn't over think it."

Ewing was noticeably bothered by the guarding of Guptil, and was limited to only nine points which helped keep the T-Girls close enough to pull out a major upset. Ewing flailed away on defense as well, and had to leave the game on several occasions with multiple fouls. Guptil seemed to be close enough at times to be in the same uniform.

When Guptil left the game for short periods of play, the same individual tenacious defense was applied alternately by Cassie Baddeley and Jena Teagarden.

Offensively, the T-Girls got a second straight solid performance from junior forward Joelle Krist, who connected regularly from the baseline and finished with a game high 20 points. In the home stretch, it was once again Krist who shouldered the scoring load. It was her second 20-point effort in as many games

Many of baskets by Krist were pumped in from the corner from where she delivered a quick release, and her soft shots resulted in money.

Krist and her mates also became an instant hit with the supporters of the Miramonte boys team who filed into the gym for the game against the Cougar boys scheduled later that evening. Her last 2-point shot brought down the house as the chant of "Petaluma" rang throughout the building at the close finish.

Petaluma also got a very good performance from reserve forward Maddie Mehciz. Mehciz, another in a stable of potentially good junior players, got limited playing time, but made the most of her appearance with 10 points, including two critical shots from distance. Both of her 3-point shots game when it appeared that Campolindo was going to pull away.

During the final seconds of the game, it was Guptil who recognized the urgency of fleeting time, and she fouled when her teammates dropped back. Over all it was a gallant effort by the senior guard in her final contest. Guptil also finished with 10 points for Petaluma.

Brooke Parifili stepped up to score 20 points for Campolindo. The Lady Cougars advance to play Encinal on Wednesday.

Allison Scranton chipped in with seven points and 11 rebounds for the T-Girls, who finished 19-11 in Johnson's final game at the helm.

Johnson finishes his coaching career with 679 wins, the second all-time winning record in the state of California. His team fell a bit short this time against a squad of full-time AAU players during the off season, but the outcome was in doubt until the final minute.

Johnson, the dean of Empire basketball coaches, can now let his record speak for itself as he moves into retirement. He did choke up slightly, and could only say immediately after the game, "We gave them a good run tonight didn't we?"