Ukiah remained in the hunt for second place in the North Bay League girls’ basketball race with a well-constructed 56-46 win over home-standing Casa Grande on Senior Night in the Lady Gaucho Gym. The Wildcats led for nearly the entire ballgame against the pressing Gauchos and clinched third place in the NBL with their second win over Casa this season.
Five senior players were honored by the Gauchos in front of a large Friday crowd, and Casa delivered an emotional defensive performance, forcing 17 turnovers by alternating full- and half-court pressing defenses. Casa Grande had several opportunities to battle for the lead, but the Lady Gauchos could not match their own intensity level on the offensive end of the floor. Ukiah led 18-13 at halftime.
While the contest was close most of the way, the Lady Gauchos could not cobble together consecutive shots to get even. A 3-point shot at the top of the key by Samantha Dedrickson pulled Casa within 40-36 in the final stanza, but that was a close as the Gauchos got.
Normally, Casa Grande relies on long-range accuracy, but that part of the attack was missing. The Gauchos wound up converting on only 5-of-21 from behind the arc. Six of their shots from distance did not draw iron.
Ukiah has one of its better teams in recent seasons, but its back-court players were forced into making enough ball-handling errors to make things interesting. Simone Adams knocked in 11 points and attacked the press with a hard dribble drive that led to lay-up shots ahead of the Casa defenders.
Gaucho coach Dan Sack helped to orchestrate each Lady Gaucho ball possession from the sideline, but he became frustrated with the Lady Gauchos’ inability to recognize early shot opportunities against the Wildcat defense.
“We are not spotting openings early enough,” he told his team.
As the game settled in, Casa point guard Trinity Merwin began to break away from her defender and connect on driving shots to keep her club close enough to catch the Lady Wildcats.
“Trinity had more opportunities, but settled early for jump shots. She is quick enough to create shots for herself,” noted Sack.
The Lady Gauchos’ leading scorer, Mia Cain, was bottled in in the paint by switching Wildcat defenders. Cain had her only field goal together with six free throws in the final stanza when Casa Grande made its last run.
Merwin and Cain finished with nine points each for the Lady Gauchos, who fell to 14-10 overall and 6-6 in the North Bay League.
Dedrickson had one of her better outings for the Gauchos with a pair of 3-point shots, and she hustled for seven rebounds. The junior forward aggressively followed Gaucho shots into the painted area with two-hand rips off the glass. Katherine Silveira chipped in for the Gauchos with seven points.
Ukiah improved to 15-9 overall with its third straight win. The Wildcats end the regular season with a contest against Windsor.
Ukiah, Montgomery, Cardinal Newman and Casa have the inside track for spots in the annual NBL post-season tournament.
The Casa Grande junior varsity club was overwhelmed by Ukiah, 50-22, in the preliminary game.
Win over Santa Rosa
Earlier in the week, Casa Grande rallied in the fourth quarter to defeat Sana Rosa, 31-25.