Visiting Montgomery blew out to a big first half lead and coasted past Casa Grande, 59-39, in North Bay League play Tuesday night.
The quick-passing Lady Vikings took care of business from the opening tap, and they left at intermission with a commanding 41-15 lead by shooting 53 percent from the floor.
The outside-inside combination of Julia Watson and Shayla Newman accounted for 21 points, and the contest was out of reach for Casa before the break. The Vikings shot effectively when it counted, combining perimeter shots with put-backs on missed opportunities.
Casa coach Dan Sack was concerned before the game about how his zone defense would react against a good club, and the answer was delivered quickly. Montgomery made the most of good looks and forced seven turnovers, rushing to a 15-3 lead in the first stanza. Most of the takeaways came in the Gaucho back court.
On the offensive end, Montgomery moved the ball around the top of the circle faster than attempted Gaucho traps, and it left Viking shooters open. In this game they didn’t miss much. At one point in the first period, Montgomery connected on four of six shots from the floor.
Sack also confirmed that his ball-handling guard, Samantha Schaefer, will be lost for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury.
Center Mia Cain battled for eight points and guards Hannah Sullivan and Emma Reese contributed a couple of shots from distance in the first half. Reese got the attention of the crowd with a desperation heave as the half ended.
The Viking defense disabled the Casa dribble offense for the most part, and high-scoring Cassidy McKinney did not score from the floor until the second half when things relaxed a bit.
First-year Viking head coach Darryl La Blue rotated substitutions by groups in the second half. All 15 Montgomery players saw action. La Blue coached the undefeated Viking junior varsity team last season.
McKinney came out with guns blazing in the second half when she hit three shots from behind the arc in a more evenly contested second half. The senior guard found the range on a couple of shots from college distance, and finished with 14 points to pace the Gauchos. Cain added 10 points and nine rebounds before sitting out much of the final stanza. Sullivan tossed in seven points.
The Lady Gauchos, who went into the contest boasting a four-game win streak, are 10-4 for the season, 2-1 in the NBL.
Only Montgomery (12-2) and defending state Division IV champion Cardinal Newman remain undefeated in league play, and the two teams meet for the first time on Thursday.
Watson led the balanced Viking offense with 12 points, all in the first half. Newman added nine. Point guard McKenzie Weinmann tossed in 10 points in addition to playing a strong floor game.
The Tuesday game followed a very good week for the Lady Gauchos, who began by smothering Maria Carrillo, 36-26, in a league game played in Santa Rosa.
The Casa defense held the Lady Pumas to single-digit scoring every quarter.
Casa Grande didn’t exactly burn the nets, scoring just four points in a tentative opening quarter that saw the Gauchos on top, 4-2, at the buzzer.
Both teams picked up the scoring in the second period, with the Gauchos easing into a 15-11 halftime lead. The difference came in the third period when the Gauchos were able to go on top, 29-17, and live on that advantage the rest of the way.