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End of the NCS trail for Lady Gauchos

Second seeded Clayton Valley had too many weapons for visiting Casa Grande, and the Lady Eagles moved to the North Coast Section Division II semifinals with a convincing 61-35 win in a physically charged game in Concord on Friday.

After senior Lyndsey Murnin of Casa banked in a 3-pointer to open the scoring, it was all Clayton Valley as the Lady Eagles rushed to a 23-9 first quarter lead. and were never threatened.

For Murnin it was a night to forget after she scored the first seven points for the Lady Gauchos. A knee injury forced her out of the contest with a couple of minutes left in the first quarter, and she was never the same. Twice the gritty point guard tried to return in the second and third periods, but on the advice of coach Dan Sack and the team trainer, she had to shut it down.

Clayton Valley scored in every way possible to open the game against Casa. Many of the Eagle points came on the inside on short bank shots, but they also added three shots from outside the arc in the first period.

Casa came out in a box and one against high scoring Ashley Allen (18.3 ppg), but she was content to share the ball with her teammates, and sophomore Haley Pascoe lit up the scoreboard for 12 points in the opening stanza.

"I was able to see them play twice this season. One of their league games was very lopsided, and there was more balanced scoring," said Sack, "I figured that if we took Allen out of her regular rhythm the rest of the team might not show up. It didn't work out that way because Pascoe converted almost everything she put up there."

The box and one also left vulnerable weak side rebounding opportunities for the Lady Eagles, and 5-foot, 10- inch junior Kayla Taylor converted the easy ones to finish with 16 points tying Pascoe for game honors.

Casa tried to stay within range by casting up a barrage of long-range shots, but most of them didn't fall. Finally, after trailing 33-15 at halftime, the Gauchos got three shots from long distance by Brooke Santander in the third period. Santander scored 11 of the Gauchos' 12 points in the third period with knuckling bombs from the top of the key that temporarily silenced the crowd that was enjoying the one-sided contest.

Santander carried the scoring load the rest of the night for the Lady Gauchos, and finished with a game-high 18 points. It was the second consecutive outburst for the Casa junior, who has closed with a rush in the late season. Santander meshed 26 in a win over Washington of Fremont on Tuesday.

Sack and Santander were in agreement that the loss of Murnin crippled the chances of any comeback by the Gauchos.


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