Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
It wasn’t a matter of if but when the Pinewood School girls basketball team would pull away from San Domenico in Saturday’s Northern California Division V quarterfinal. The visitors arrived in Los Altos Hills with just five healthy players and their 6-foot-3 center on crutches.
San Domenico still had the size advantage, but that wasn’t nearly enough to overcome the Panthers’ pressure defense, 3-point shooting, speed and depth. By halftime, third-seeded Pinewood was well on its way to the 52-22 blowout.
“We ran them, pushed it in transition and just kind of took it to them,” said sophomore point guard Marissa Hing, who paced Pinewood with 14 points.
The Panthers started slowly, missing 11 of their 14 shots in the first period. Yet they held a 9-4 lead at quarter’s end on the strength of two 3-pointers by Hing and another from sophomore guard Monique McDevitt.
“I expected us to struggle early because it was our first game in 10 days,” said coach Doc Scheppler, whose team made a quick exit from the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs. “But we were getting shots and expected that they would start falling.”
Pinewood got going in the second quarter, outscoring No. 6 San Domenico 17-6. Freshman forward Chloe Eackles scored six of her nine points in the period, with two of the baskets coming on putbacks. She also made a pair of free throws, the last points of a 10-0 run that gave the Panthers a 24-7 lead with 1:29 left in the half.
“As time went on, we settled into a comfort zone,” Scheppler said. “From the four-minute mark of the second quarter on, I thought we played reasonably well.”
After San Domenico cut the deficit to 14, senior forward Angelina Mapa charged down the middle of the lane for a layin with five seconds remaining to push Pinewood’s lead to 26-10 at intermission.
The Panthers (22-7) produced the first nine points of the third quarter, and the rout was on. The scoring spurt started with Eackles making an easy layup after stealing San Domenico’s inbound pass to begin the half. Hing and sophomore guard Gabi Bade followed with 3-pointers, then Eackles split a couple of free throws to put Pinewood ahead 35-10 with 5:37 left in the period.
Tiring San Domenico (25-8) – not known for its perimeter shooting – continued to struggle offensively. The visitors failed to make a 3-point shot in the game (0 for 11) and their post players were greeted with double teams nearly every time they entered the paint.
“We’re the type of team that gives that team fits because we have, by and large, pretty athletic kids that play hard, put pressure on the ball and make it difficult for them to get what they want to get – which is inside (shots),” Scheppler said. “I thought our post players did a nice job defending inside.”
The Panthers’ lead ballooned to 50-16 early in the fourth on another trey from Bade. Pinewood connected on 10 3-pointers in the contest.
The victory propelled the Panthers into Tuesday’s semifinal game at No. 2 Valley Christian-Dublin (31-2), played after the Town Crier’s press deadline.
Hing was confident Pinewood would win – and then triumph in the NorCal Division V final, slated 10 a.m. Saturday at American Canyon High.
“I think we got it,” she said. “We got it – we’re going to state.”