By Pete Borello
The Pinewood School girls basketball team dominated only one quarter of Tuesday's Northern California Division V semifinal game, yet that was enough to carry the Panthers to a 54-44 win over Capital Christian.
Second-seeded Pinewood (28-3) advances to the NorCal final - scheduled 10 a.m. Saturday at American Canyon High - to face No. 1 Brookside Christian (28-4).
The Panthers - the defending NorCal champs - were in championship form in the first half against sixth-seeded Capital Christian (26-6) of Sacramento. Leading by two after the first quarter, Pinewood outscored the visiting Cougars 24-6 in the second with an array of drives and 3-pointers.
“We had a great rhythm getting layups and 3s in the first half, which is our tempo,” said coach Doc Scheppler, whose team led 39-19 at intermission.
The Panthers connected on nine of their 12 shots in the second period, including four 3s. Forward Leeana Bade made four consecutive shots - three drives and a baseline 3 - in the first three minutes.
“That was definitely one of my best first halves of the whole entire season,” said Bade, who had scored 14 of her game-high 17 points by halftime.
The 20-point bulge enabled Pinewood to survive a second-half slump in which Capital Christian twice cut the lead to single digits.
Pinewood made only three field goals after halftime, none bigger than Bade's 3-pointer with 3:47 to play. The Cougars had just narrowed the deficit to nine when the senior buried the shot from the right wing, providing the Panthers with their first points of the fourth quarter.
Point guard Marissa Hing split a pair of free throws after a Capital Christian turnover, pushing the lead to 48-35 with 3:12 remaining. Hing knocked down a pair of foul shots in the final minute, and guard Gabi Bade (Leeana's younger sister) made four more to keep the Cougars at a safe distance.
Hing, who totaled 14 points, is eager to take on Brookside of Stockton in Saturday's NorCal title game. She hasn't forgotten their last meeting - a 60-37 win by Brookside in the NorCal semifinals two years ago.
“They're a really good team, and they killed us my freshman year,” she said. “This year I think we'll give them a better run. I'm excited for that game.”
The winner plays the Southern California champ in the state final, scheduled 10 a.m. March 28 at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.