Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Mountain View High girls basketball team survived another slow start, and coach Judy Auclair hopes her Spartans learned something this time.
“The last two games we’ve come out really slow,” she said after Friday’s 53-42 victory over Monta Vista. “We’re winning, so they think everything’s going to be a piece of cake. But maybe now they’ll realize they need to focus during the game and at practice.”
The Spartans – who didn’t pull away from Fremont until the second half of their 56-31 win to open league Jan. 2 – trailed visiting Monta Vista 19-5 after the first quarter.
“Monta Vista played better than I thought they were going to play,” said Auclair, whose team improved to 2-0 in the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League El Camino Division and 12-2 overall. “They shot the lights out in the first quarter. They were hot and we were flat.”
Mountain View heated up in the second quarter, though, taking a 27-26 lead into halftime. The Spartans outscored the Matadors 22-7, pulling ahead on guard Cori Nishimoto’s buzzer-beating jumper from the left elbow.
Mountain View led the rest of the way. The Spartans scored the first six points of the second half, the last two on guard Jayme Hughes’ breakaway layup. The sophomore guard/forward finished with a team-high 15 points, all of them coming after the first quarter.
“Jayme’s energy (spurred the turnaround),” Auclair said. “When she comes in, she just pumps the kids up – they’re all ready to go.”
Senior guard Bailey Polisso added 12 points that included a pair of 3-pointers to stymie second-half runs by Monta Vista. The Matadors had just closed the gap to 37-34 when Polisso nailed a top-of-the-key trey with 1:33 left in the third. With the Spartans leading 43-40 midway through the fourth, Polisso connected from nearly the same spot. Hughes earned the assist, finding Polisso wide open after making a steal.
Mountain View ended the game on an 11-2 run, with the final four points coming on free throws from sophomore forward Karen Kauffman.
Quite a finish for a squad that looked lost in the first quarter. The Spartans fell behind 10-2 to a team that’s now 0-2 in league and 3-7 overall.
“We weren’t setting up right on our press for the first quarter,” Auclair said. “After (the coaches) explained what they needed to do, they fixed it.”
From the second quarter on, Mountain View forced 28 turnovers and held the Matadors to just 11-of-34 shooting (32.4 percent).
“We’re winning with defense,” Auclair said.
The Spartans sizzled in the second period, making nine of their 17 shots.
Hughes scored nine points in the quarter, making two drives, a pair of free throws and swishing a 3-pointer.
Polisso contributed five points, banking in a drive and burying a 3 from well beyond the arc.
Nishimoto scored the last four points of the half, converting a backcourt steal into a layup before draining her lead-changing jumper at the buzzer.
Mountain View is scheduled to visit rival Los Altos 7 p.m. today in league play. The teams last met Dec. 8 in the Los Altos High Holiday Classic final, which the Spartans won 56-33 behind Polisso’s 18 points.