Marin Catholic broke open a tight game with the host Casa Grande girls in the final stanza and escaped with a 48-40 nonleague win on Tuesday night.
The two teams battled on equal terms for most of the contest, but it was the ability of the Lady Wildcats to patiently solve the Casa trapping defense that made the difference as they rolled out eight unanswered points down the stretch.
The shooting of junior Sydney Politzer turned the tide for Marin Catholic as quick passes from the top of the circle found open wings for good looks at the basket.
Politzer had 10 points in the stanza, including 8-for-8 from the foul line. The ball moved faster than the Lady Gauchos could trap, and that made the difference. She had 21 points for Marin. Miranda Jacobson added 13 points.
Mia Cain, last year’s leading point maker for the Gauchos, picked up where she left off with 19 points, and she kept her team in the hunt offensively. In addition to some aggressive interior moves, three of her baskets were short and accurate teardrop runners. Cain had 10 points in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to hold off Marin Catholic. Until the final period, the biggest gap between the two teams was six points.
The loss evened the season record for the shorthanded Gauchos at 1-1.
Three girls were missing from the lineup, including regular starter Hannah Sullivan who is a strong wing shooter. Sullivan suffered a concussion and has not yet been cleared to return to school.
“When she comes back, the protocol begins so it is going to be a while,” said Casa coach Dan Sack.
Emily Boulad and Shayla Dunker also sat out the game from the Gaucho rotation.
“It was a good effort tonight against a pretty good team,” added Sack. “At times, we had only freshmen and sophomores on the floor. Marin Catholic beat Windsor by 20 points.”
Freshmen guards Trinity Merwin and Sophia Gardea controlled the tempo for the Lady Gauchos with accurate passing and fast-enough ball movement to give their teammates open shots.
Merwin was a key player for her Kenilworth Junior High School team that went undefeated for two seasons.
“She sees things up the floor and has as very bright future,” noted Sack.
Merwin finished with nine points and two assists, while the speedy Gardea added a key basket in the third stanza. Both players are quick enough to make the Casa pressing game very effective. Marin Catholic was forced out of a comfort zone for most of the first half.
Junior Guard Emma Reese hit a late 3-point shot in the final stanza that closed the gap to five points, but the Lady Gauchos could get no closer. Reese had six points for the game.
Marin Catholic improved to 4-1 for the year. The Wildcats are set to face Woodside Priory in the Laney Shootout on Saturday.