Casa Grande High School's Lady Gauchos stood strong in defense of their home court Thursday night, holding off Cardinal Newman's Lady Cardinals, 42-28.
The win improved Casa's North Bay League record to 5-4 (11-10 overall), with all five league wins coming in their own Coach Ed Iacopi Gymnasiumn. Cardinal Newman is now 4-5 in league and 13-6 overall. The victory was achieved even through the Lady Gauchos did not shoot very well, managing just 16 first-half points. What they did do very well was play defense.
"We worked really hard on our rotation to take away their easy shots rom the corner," explained Casa Grande coach Dan Sack. "Overall, it was the best job we've done handing off players and picking up their cutters. We played a true match-up zone."
The 26 points allowed by Casa was just about half the 50 they gave up to the Lady Cardinals in an earlier loss at Cardinal Newman.
With Dayna Dolcini and Brooke Santander denying Cardinal Newman access to passes in the paint and their teammates rotating out to take away unmolested 3-point attempts, the Lady Gauchos effectively smothered the Cardinal Newman offense. Casa Grande's 16-point first-half output wasn't much, but it was 10 points more than the Lady Cardinals could muster. Cardinal Newman had just one basket in the first quarter, a short shot by Megan McConnell, and only two in the second on drives by Tiffany Salinas and Kylie Kieth.
Meanwhile, the Lady Gauchos had much less hinderance in their shot attempts, but had difficulty finding the proper range. Lexie Schloetter had two key baskets at the end of the first period as Casa slipped into a 9-2 lead and Lyndsey Murnin connected from San Rafael to beat the halftime buzzer, sending Casa Grande into the break with a 16-6 advantage.
Scoring for both teams picked up in the second half. Casa Grande continued to play strong defense, but its efforts were hampered somewhat by the absence of No. 1 practioner Dolcini, who sat out much of the third period and part of the final quarter after picking up her third personal foul. The Lady Cardinals' cause was helped by tough work inside from freshman Salinas, who muscled her way to three baskets and seven points over the final two periods.
Salinas' efforts wee countered by Santander, who accounted for six of Casa Grande's eight final-quarter points, getting her last two of the night with an impressive fake-right, left-handed hook.
Santander finished with 14 points, while Murnin added nine and Lexie Schloetter sevent. Dolcini pulled down 10 rebounds. Salians scored nine to lead Cardinal Newman.
Casa Grande played without starter and team captain Allie Fausone who sat out because of illness. In her stead, sophomore Kayla Ryan and junior Megan Burke provided good minutes for Casa with their defense and ball handling.