Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jennifer Lucian, putting up a shot Saturday against Dublin, finished with a team-best 14 points.
An admittedly nervous Jennifer Lucian was almost a nonfactor on offense for St. Francis High through three quarters of play Saturday in the Northern California Division II girls basketball quarterfinals.
That changed in the fourth quarter. The senior scored 10 of her team-high 14 points – and added three steals – in the final quarter to lead top-seeded St. Francis past No. 9 Dublin 50-41.
Lucian fueled a 17-4 scoring burst in the fourth for the Lancers (22-8). The forward shot 3-for-3 from the field and 4-of-6 from the free-throw line, helping her team stretch a one-point lead to 14 with just more than a minute left.
Lucian conceded that nerves got the best of her for the first 24 minutes of the game, in which she scored two points in the first half and two in the third quarter.
“It was just hard getting started today. … I guess I got too much into my head, about what I was going to do,” said Lucian, whose team advanced to the semifinals to host No. 4 seed Florin-Sacramento (23-9) Tuesday, past the Town Crier’s press deadline. “(In the fourth quarter) I just decided to play basketball.”
Lucian led the Lancers on a fast-paced 8-0 scoring run to open the fourth, hitting layups at 7:23 and again with 5:30 to go – and stealing a pair of Dublin passes along the way. Thirty seconds later, Lucian drove to the basket and drew a shooting foul, hitting both free throws to give the Lancers a 40-31 lead.
Ahead 42-33 with just more than three minutes left, Lucian picked off a third Gaels’ pass and nailed a jumper to give the Lancers a double-digit advantage.
“I think she relaxed a little bit and played like Jen knows how to play,” St. Francis coach Brian Harrigan said.
Harrigan added that a weeklong pause between games also contributed to a slow start for his Lancers, who saw the Gaels take a 12-4 lead in the game’s first seven minutes. Dublin center Jojuan Carrington, a sophomore, scored six of her game-high 16 points during that stretch.
“At this point in the season, you really don’t want a week between games. I thought at times it showed that we hadn’t played in a while,” said Harrigan, whose team last played March 2, a 41-32 loss to Mitty in the Central Coast Section Open Division final.
The Lancers responded to Saturday’s slow start with a 14-0 run that began late in the first quarter and extended into the final three minutes of the second.
Senior guard Shelbi Aimonetti scored five of her game-total 11 points on a jumper with 3:44 left in the first half, drilling a 3-pointer 30 seconds later to put St. Francis up 22-14 at halftime.
“We knew it would be tight and low-scoring,” said Gaels head coach Mark Wainwright. “That second quarter really hurt us. … I don’t think we ever got a decent shot. That really stung.”
The Gaels responded by outscoring the Lancers 17-10 in the third, briefly taking a 31-30 lead before Lucian’s layup with 23 seconds left put the Lancers up by one, setting the stage for her fourth-quarter effort.
“It took us a while to get going,” Lucian said, “but once everyone’s on the same page, we’re good.”