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Casa girls impressive in West Coast Jamboree

Casa Grande wrapped up a strong performance at the West Coast Jamboree by routing San Domenico, 58-37, to finish in third place in the strong Amethyst bracket played at Jesse Bethel High School in Vallejo. The Lady Gauchos won two of three contests in the 3-day affair.

The frustrating full-court pressure by the Gauchos was too much for the young Division V team from San Anselmo that turned the ball over 19 times and fell behind by double digits in the second half. Leading Panther scorer Kayden Korst sat out the contest with an injury but was selected to the all-tourney team.

Casa pulled away to a 22-18 lead in the first half, led by quick freshmen Trinity Merwin and Sophia Gardea, who forced Panther dribblers into double-team pressure as the game moved forward. The first-year teammates also had 11 points between them in the first two periods.

The Gauchos had a 16-9 advantage in the third stanza with six players contributing to the scoring. Hannah Sullivan and Emma Reese tossed in 3-pointers to key the rally.

Casa smelled victory, and the Gauchos added 20 points in the final stanza, led by four shots from distance by Sullivan and Katherine Silveira.

Mia Cain had a strong finish for the third consecutive contest by controlling the glass along with Samantha Dedrickson, and she banked in four points to close it out. Cain finished with eight points.

Cain and Merwin were all-tournament selections for the Gauchos, who improved to 7-4 for the season.

Sullivan topped both teams with 14 points, followed by Merwin with 13 and Gardea with 11.

The top Panther point maker was Cate Olrich with 12, while Alexa DalPorto added nine points for the Panthers, who fell to 6-3 overall. There are no seniors on the young San Domenico club.

Overtime loss

Final-second shooting heroics by reserve guard Emma Reece forced an overtime period for the cold-shooting Gauchos, who dropped a 46-41 decision to Saratoga in the second round on Friday.

Reece found the range from the baseline with less than a minute to go and Casa trailed 39-37 with time enough for a shot by Saratoga before the buzzer. The ball was hustled to the offensive end of the court, where Reece was fouled in a battle for a rebound with five seconds remaining. The cool sophomore dropped in a pair of charity tossed to tie the score at 39 as the game clock sounded on a desperation shot by the Lady Falcons.

Overtime did not help the Gauchos much as they went the entire four minutes with only a single field goal by Cain from the inside. The more balanced Falcons got scoring from three players and won going away.

Casa bombed away from the outer reaches of the 3-point arc, but nothing dropped. The Gauchos converted on only one shot by Merwin in the third stanza.

Cain caught fire down the stretch, but it was just enough to keep the Gauchos close. The reliable senior had nine of her game-high 12 points in the fourth period. Drives and put-backs by Cain kept things close. Sullivan came down sick and sat out the second half for Casa.

Reece hit her key shots, and finished with 11 points for Casa Grande, while Merwin had a solid start with eight points in the first half. Reece had her best offensive showing of the season with 11 points.

Impressive win

The Lady Gauchos rebounded from a disappointing NBL opening loss last week to post their most impressive win of the season in the opening round of the Jamboree on Thursday afternoon. Casa came from behind to upset John Swett of Crockett 63-57.

Casa Grande trailed the favored Swett High club (10-3) through most of the first half and the high-scoring Lady Warriors took a 35-28 at intermission. A full-court press by the Gauchos began to slow down an offense which averaged 65.9 points per game, but the physical toll of the constant pressure would come down the stretch.

The 3-point shooting of senior Sullivan and newcomer Katherine Silveira accounted for 15 points in the first half and kept the Gauchos close.

Casa Grande turned on the burners in the second half and the defensive activity forced the more athletic Warriors to tire badly down the stretch. Cain came off the bench to score 12 points underneath, and Swett could not respond.

Cain played sparingly in the first half, but had plenty of late energy, and continually sealed off Warrior center Gabby Ortega for entry passes from freshmen guards Gardea and Merwin, and the turnaround was underway.

Gardea was especially effective in the final stanza by beating the Warriors down the floor, including once for an uncontested lay-up.

Sullivan had one of her best outings with a team-leading 15 points, mostly on quick-release shots from the left side of the floor.

Swett tired badly in the final stanza and never got closer than six points. Point guard Emily Dominguez impressed Casa coach Dan Sack by keeping her team in the hunt with 28 points.

“We didn’t do much to slow her down,” he confessed. Dominguez averaged 12 points going into the game. “They have a productive center who was not here today and it made a difference.”

“You would have to say that this was one of our best games,” noted Sack, who had scouted Swett earlier. “They can score, but it was difficult to determine the strength of their competition.”