A disappointing 47-39 loss to host Urban in the championship game of the 11th annual Shootout at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco on Saturday denied St. Vincent its first claim at a title in the prestigious three-day basketball tourney for small schools. The win was the fourth in a row for the Blues as they improved to 6-2 for the season.
A 14-5 advantage in the second quarter proved to be the winning margin.
It might have been that the energetic Lady Mustangs (5-3) left it all on the floor the night before when they registered one of the biggest upsets of the young season.
St. Vincent moved into the finals of the tournament Friday evening by knocking off highly rated Covent of the Sacred Heart of San Francisco, 60-51. The Lady Mustangs aggressively attacked the basket from the opening tap and never trailed in the fast-paced and entertaining contest.
The win was a statement by St. Vincent against the second-seeded team in the North Coast Division V playoffs last season and the four-time defending champion in the highly competitive Bay Counties West League.
The Mustangs galloped to a 10-2 advantage in the early minutes of the game by quickly attacking the basket on every possession, and that strategy held up for the rest of the contest. Veteran front court player Ursyla Baumgarten drove repeatedly toward the rim and connected for nine points in the opening stanza.
The favored Cubs were rocked back on their heels by the early offense and the temporary sidelining of shooting guard Jaime Nishikado, who suffered a facial injury in a first-round game. Nishikado started the game on the bench while adjusting a face mask that she went on to use in limited minutes. She had to adjust from a face plant fall suffered in a win against the Bay School.
"Stopping their two back court players will be our first priority," said Mustang coach James Fagundes before the game. "They are both quick and very good scorers. Come to think of it, that will also be our second priority."
Led by Baumgarten and some outside help by fellow junior Jacalyn Murphy, the Mustangs maintained a 29-20 advantage at half against the fast-closing Cubs.
With the part-time service of Nishikado and an off shooting night by back court mate Izzy Borges, the Cubs turned to forward Bianka Quintilla for some offensive help, and she delivered. Quintilla reeled off 17 consecutive points in the first half to keep her club in the hunt.
Sacred Heart began to function on all cylinders in the second half, and chopped the Mustang advantage to 48-44 before a quick counter attack and six consecutive points by St. Vincent reestablished a more comfortable lead.
Baskets by Grace Jennings, Rebecca Dodelle and freshman Taylor Owen were critical in the resurgence. Owen, playing in place of an ill Maddie Perry, turned in a gritty effort after hurting her hand in the second half.
Quintilla continued scoring at a quick pace, and finished with a game high 33 points for the Cubs, who fell to 6-2 with the loss. Nishikado had all 13 of her points in the second half.
The Mustangs ignored clock management down the stretch, and it was a comfortable fit as they topped Sacred Heart in the final stanza, 17-16.