Montgomery moved into the finals of the North Bay League girls basketball tournament with a solid 53-40 win over the Lady Gauchos in Santa Rosa on Tuesday night.
The Lady Vikings came out with fire in their eyes and great determination. seeking to avenge a crippling loss to the same Casa Grande team last week that eliminated them from a claim to an NBL regular-season co-championship. Montgomery grabbed a 10-6 first quarter advantage and was never seriously headed the rest of the way.
The difference in the physical contest was that the more versatile Montgomery team got offensive efforts from both their perimeter shooters and the hustling play of pivot player Claire Donnely, who demanded the defensive attention of every Gaucho on the front line.
Donnely finished with 11 points, but everything was hard earned, with Gauchos Dayna Dolcini and Angelia Llaverias not giving an inch on the inside, where the hand fighting and bumping got rugged at times.
With all the concentration on Donnely by Dolcini and Llaverias, many put-back opportunities were created on the weak side where Montgomery banked in eight points.
Nine players scored for the Vikings, as they improved to 21-6 for the season and gained an opportunity to play for the NBL Tournament title at Santa Rosa Junior College on Friday night. Angela Hess came off the bench to score nine points, and got strong support from starters Ashlee Wilson and Olivia Harris-Bloom with eight points each.
Junior bomber Brooke Santander was again a volume shooter for the Lady Gauchos, and carried the offense with 14 points in the second half to finish with 20 for the game. Several of her long distance attempts were from NBA distance, but she was willing to take chances to keep her team in the hunt. She had eight of the last 13 points for Casa.
Lyndsey Murnin once more brought a calming influence to the contest with most of the pressure ball handling and six early rebounds in the first quarter. "She has given up being a scorer from the wing to move the ball for our team," said an appreciative coach Dan Sack before the game. "Lyndsey is one of our best passers and moves the ball where we want it to go."
Murnin kept the Lady Viking defense honest with right-handed dribble drives down the middle that resulted in baskets or free throw attempts. Murnin ended her regular season with 10 points. At halftime, Murnin and Santander had all 13 Lady Gaucho points.
Lexie Schloetter was also more active dribbling the ball up the floor under pressure, and knocked in two shots from behind the arc in the second half.