Pinewood proves no match for Mitty in CCS title game

R. Alan Hwang/Special to the Town Crier
Pinewood’s Kaitlyn Leung puts up a shot in Friday’s game.

In the regular season, the nationally ranked girls basketball teams from Pinewood School and Mitty High clearly showed they were a cut above the rest of the Central Coast Section. Friday night, Mitty left little doubt that it’s on a higher plane than Pinewood as well.

The top-seeded Monarchs routed the No. 2 Panthers 72-51 in the CCS Open Division final at Santa Clara University. Defending champ Mitty – ranked No. 1 nationally by MaxPreps – never trailed and led by double-digits most of the way.

While Pinewood (24-3 overall) often overcomes its lack of size with skill and tenacity, the Monarchs (25-2) displayed plenty of that, too – along with lethal length. Mitty outrebounded the Panthers 43-29 and scored 46 points in the paint, 21 on second-chance shots.

“When they outrebound us like that and kill us on the boards, that was the whole difference,” Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said. “Anytime you go into a game and you’re playing Mitty, you want to minimize the easy baskets, and they won the easy-basket war. We have to earn ours through skill and things like that, and they earned theirs through hustle and determination and physicality – and they have a size advantage.”

Panthers guard Kaitlyn Leung noted that her team’s tentativeness and lack of execution magnified the Monarchs’ size superiority.

“We were too scared of them and made them more than what they were,” said the senior, who scored seven of her eight points in the fourth quarter. “There are ways to combat size. They’re giants, but there are ways to beat the giant.”

One giant in particular stepped all over Pinewood – Haley Jones. The 6-foot-1 senior scored a game-high 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds and blocked three shots. She exploded for 14 points in the fourth quarter, helping Mitty turn a 13-point lead into 21 by the end.

“Haley is just really a great player,” Scheppler said. “That’s a distinct advantage for them and gives advantages for their other players as well. … They get open shots because you have to account for her.”

Players like Hunter Hernandez, who added 21 points that included a pair of putbacks in the fourth.

“One of our flaws was not boxing out,” Leung said. “That was the game plan, but we didn’t follow through, and it definitely hurt us.”

Olivia Williams, who transferred from Pinewood to Mitty this school year, also hurt her former team. The sophomore scored seven points off the bench on 3-for-3 shooting. Her 3-pointer midway through the third quarter pushed the Monarchs’ lead to 40-27.

Courtni Thompson paced the Panthers with 18 points Friday. The sophomore guard scored eight points in the second period, capped by a corner 3 that cut Mitty’s advantage to 30-21 at halftime.

Thompson and teammate Hannah Jump played the second half with sprained ankles suffered on the same play. Playing defense, they each stepped on the foot of a Mitty player and went down late in the first half. Thompson shook it off quickly, but Jump was visibly in pain yet remained in the game as well.

It was a tough night for Jump, who will join Jones at Stanford next fall. Pinewood’s leading scorer at 17.9 points per game, Jump was held to six points and didn’t make a 3. Yale-bound Klara Astrom, second on the squad at 16.3 points per game, tallied nine points.

Pinewood may get another shot at Mitty in the Northern California Open Division playoffs. The third-seeded Panthers are set to host No. 6 St. Mary’s (22-8) 7 p.m. today in the quarterfinals; the winner plays Saturday at No. 2 Carondelet.

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