Two of the most successful North Coast Section public school girls basketball teams from last season played a very spirited pre-season contest on Saturday afternoon when Heritage of Brentwood from Division I hosted Casa Grande, the runner-up in Division II.

The meeting was hotly contested, and scored as four separate quarters of play between the Lady Patriots and Lady Gauchos, who both advanced deep into the Nor-Cal playoffs in the 2011-12 season.

Heritage came away with a 52-40 advantage before game officials halted play after a flagrant Lady Patriot foul on a cutting Lyndsey Murnin of the Lady Gauchos with less than a minute remaining. Murnin was left with a cut on her chin after a hard face plant fall on an aggressive drive to the basket. Earlier a Heritage player was removed from the game by Lady Patriot coach Dan Swan for an intentional foul.

"Our intent was to treat this one like a regular game," said Lady Gaucho coach Dan Sack of the difficult competition. "This team won a couple of upset games in Division I post season last year, and they return several regulars. This was a good challenge before the season gets underway next week."

At no point did Casa back off in a very intensely played game.

Officially, the contest will not be recorded on the record of either team. Heritage played a previous foundation game against Livermore while the Gauchos participated in a multi team scrimmage at Marin Catholic.

Heritage came into the contest boasting four returning starters from last season when the Lady Patriots went 25-6, including an upset win over Oakland Tech in the Nor Cal playoffs. Three-year regular Ali Ramirez came on strong to score all of her 10 points in the final two periods against Casa.

Casa matched the hosts in aggressiveness, and led throughout the opening stanza paced by junior forward Brooke Santanter. Santander connected on her first four shots, including one from distance, and finished with nine points in the quarter/

Murnin, the most versatile returning player of the Lady Gauchos from the school best 31-3 club of last season, was content to let the game come to her at the guard spot, but warmed to the task in the late going. She had her outside shot going and finished with 14 points before the contest was stopped. Four of the shots by the veteran senior guard were from outside the arc. Most of the work by Murnin came from the point, but she slid to the shooting guard slot when the younger Sara Langdon entered.

"Lyndsey really prefers playing at the No. 2 position, but she is one of our best ball handlers as well," observed Sack

Junior Angela Llaverias worked diligently on the glass, and knocked in a couple of follow-up shots in the second period. Llaverias wound up with eight points without flare and connected on critical foul shots.

Heritage had a strong outside game in gear during the first half, with four long-distance shots from the corner to take an early advantage in the last seconds of the first period. A final shot by senior Shiela Langrath ended the first period with the Patriots up 12-11.

After some adjustments by Casa during the halftime break the Patriots were held scoreless from behind the 3-point line.

Newcomer Kayla Ryan turned in a steady performance for the Lady Gauchos against a double-teaming Heritage defense that extended to full floor at times. Ryan wound up with six points.

Casa opens its regular season this weekend by hosting the four-team round robin Big House Invitational Tournament beginning on Thursday evening. Eureka, Redwood and Windsor all return for games continuing on Friday and Saturday.

Heritage will travel to Southern California on Friday to meet San Fernando at Los Angeles Baptist.