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Casa girls lose to Montgomery, beat Santa Rosa

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Montgomery’s too-tall Vikings belted the Casa Grande girls basketball team with its own backboards last week, handing the Lady Gauchos a 48-37 defeat in a match of two of the best teams in the North Bay League.

“They are a good team and their height hurt us,” said Casa Grande coach Dan Sack. But the coach also noted that the Gauchos also hurt themselves by not converting defensively created shots into points. “We defended well, and we moved the ball well, but we have to create shots.”

The towering Vikings with nearly 6-feet of height with four players owned the backboards, particularly on their end of the court, often getting two, three and four shots on possessions.

Casa Grande, as it usually does, handled the ball well, with quick and accurate passing. However, too often the ball handling failed to lead to open shots against the towering Vikings.

Montgomery’s Grace Stetzner scored the game’s first basket, tellingly on a follow-up of a missed shot, and the Vikings never trailed.

But they never really put the Lady Gauchos away until a bench-clearing final quarter when Shayla Newman took over for the Vikings.

Unable to find lanes to the hoop, Casa Grande took to the outside with enough success to keep it in the game.

After falling behind, 9-3, Casa used a pair of distance connections from Katherine Silveira to stay close at 19-13 at the end of the first quarter. Casa hit five 3-pointers in the game. Silveira finished with nine points to lead Casa.

Of Montgomery’s seven baskets in the period, only one, a 3-point hit by Ciarah Michalik, came from outside the paint.

Casa Grande managed to keep the Vikings away from the basket in the second period, and, sparked by a driving Trinity Merwin and a 3-point connection from Hannah Sullivan, reached halftime still very much in the game, although trailing, 29-21.

The status quo held through the third period, with Casa Grande managing to stay within 10 points because of hustle and Montgomery’s inability to convert free throws. The Vikings were 3-of-8 from the stripe in the period, missing four in a row at one point. For the game, they were just 7-of-20 on foul shots.

Montgomery’s lead swelled to 15 before a couple of Casa baskets by Samantha Dedrickson and Sophia Gardea brought the final deficit down a bit.

Bounce back win

Fueled by the energy of a couple of underclass backcourt players, the Casa Grande Lady Gauchos bounced back from the loss to Montgomery to run away from visiting Santa Rosa, 43-27, on Monday.

“Oh those freshman guards,” grimaced Sack as he called a second early time out to make some simple adjustments at the head of his trapping press. The break in the action paid off as Casa broke away from an 8-8 game in the first quarter to lead for the rest of the contest.

Point guard Merwin led the way by forcing the Santa Rosa offense into several early mistakes that the Gauchos converted to their own offensive opportunities. Merwin wound up scoring 11 of her game-high 17 points in the first half, mostly on right-hand dribble drives.

Santa Rosa came into the contest with a 2-1 record in the North Bay League, but the Panthers never got untracked. Twelve turnovers came as a result of quick Casa Grande double teams with Merwin and swift teammate Gardea applying the damage.

Gardea wound up scoring six points, but her ability to force the Panthers into passing miscues was more damaging.

Junior forward Princess Tufele kept the Panthers close in the early stages by rimming shots from the right baseline, but her calm was not matched by the rest of the Panthers, who appeared to be off stride under the Gaucho pressure. Tufele tallied 14 points for the visitors.

Six-foot, 2-inch center Kamaren Codding carried a scoring average of 9.5 points per game going into the contest, but was forced out of position, and connected on only two of 11 shots. On two occasions, Codding had open break-away shots, but began her lay-in too early.

The defensive effort by the Lady Gauchos was a team effort with some good pressure additionally applied on the wings by Casa Grande forwards.

The Gauchos have won four of their last six games, and made a good showing at the West Coast Jamboree.

“We were competitive against a good Montgomery team, but it got away from us in the second half,” noted Sack. Montgomery went on to give highly favored Cardinal Newman all it could handle in a close game on Monday.

Veterans Mia Cain and Sullivan turned in solid defensive efforts against Santa Rosa, in addition to combining for 11 points between them. A 3-pointer broke the seal for Sullivan at the shot clock buzzer late in the game. Dedrickson also tossed in a key 3-point shot as time ran out for the Gauchos in the second period.

Early birds to the game were treated to an exciting finish in the junior varsity game. The home-standing Gauchos battled back from a 10-point deficit in the final minute to take the lead twice only to drop a 46-43 decision.