In what started out as a sprint and turned into a marathon, St. Vincent's High School's girls ran their way into the championship game of the Dave Castleberry North Central League II Tournament Thursday evening, holding off Roseland University Prep's Lady Knights, 57-44.
St. Vincent will play Sonoma Academy tonight at 7 p.m. in DeCarli gym for the tournament championship.
Roseland came out running, hustling and misfiring, missing many in-close baskets. St. Vincent came out running faster, hustling harder and hitting many in-close baskets. The result was an early mismatch and enough of an early cushion for the Lady Mustangs to gallop into the tournament championship game.
St. Vincent scored the game's first seven points, five of its players scored in the first quarter, and by the end of the first period, St. Vincent led, 21-7. Aside from a medium-range hit by Olivia DeGraca and a free throw by Urysla Baumgarten, all the St. Vincent points came from inside the lane, as the Lady Mustangs continually beat the Lady Knights at their own game, ruling the backboards and swiftly transitioning from defense to layins at the other end of the court.
The St. Vincent onslaught continued in the second quarter, with Jacalyn Murphy and Grace Jennings tossing 3-point hits into the offensive mix, and by the intermission, the Lady Mustangs were in full stride, leading 36-15.
But the Lady Knights proved relentless. Even as their deficit grew in the second half, they kept running and battling. With Stephanie Martinez battling hard inside and Jackie Melendez popping in a pair of 3-pointers and consistently driving to the hoop, Roseland Prep made an impressive, if futile, fourth-quarter run to make the final score respectable.
Every player on the St. Vincent roster contributed to the Lady Mustang scoring, led by Baumgarten with 16 and Jennings with 14. Rebecca Dodele added eight, Murphy seen, DeGraca four and Maddie Perry, Taylor Owen, Kenzie Fairow and Rainey Henry two apiece.
Martinez scored 16 and Melendez 12 for Roseland Prep.