Seemingly on a collision course since the season began, the girls basketball teams from Pinewood School and Mitty High will face off in Friday’s Central Coast Section Open Division final. Tip-off is set for 4 p.m. at Mitty.
The 16-0 Panthers and 13-1 Monarchs, whose lone loss came outside of the section, both demolished their semifinal opponents Wednesday night (June 9). Second-seeded Pinewood prevailed 80-41 over No. 3 St. Ignatius, while top-seeded Mitty routed No. 5 Woodside Priory 68-26.
The Panthers, with double-digit wins in every game this year, have put up a whopping 177 points over their two playoff victories.
Pinewood never trailed against St. Ignatius (13-5) – which had more size but couldn’t match the Panthers’ athleticism or shooting ability – and held a comfortable 42-23 advantage at halftime. The game became a blowout in the third quarter.
“We got to the rim, finished plays, shot the ball fairly well – didn’t get a lot of 3s – but we finished at the rim,” said coach Doc Scheppler, whose team made 34 of its 60 field-goal attempts, including nine of 15 from 3-point range. “Defensively, we have some things we’ve got to clean up, but by and large, I thought we played a great game.”
The Wildcats didn’t get on the scoreboard until midway through the first quarter; by that time, Pinewood already had 10 points. At quarter’s end, the Panthers led 24-5. They shot 4-of-5 from 3-point range in the period, with Emily Lee coming off the bench to make two of them. The junior scored all eight of her points in the first.
Another reserve – transfer Elle Ladine – totaled 22 points. The junior scored 16 in the fourth quarter, burying a trio of 3s in the process.
Pinewood senior Una Jovanovic also produced 22 points to share team-high honors with Ladine. Jovanovic opened the third quarter by driving into the paint and scoring on a spin move, igniting a 9-0 run that put the Panthers up 51-23 at the midway point.
“She’s a strong finisher of plays,” Scheppler said of Jovanovic. “She was our matchup advantage tonight from the standpoint of the girl that was guarding her couldn’t guard her.”
The Wildcats also had trouble staying with post player Maia Garcia, who routinely beat them down the floor in transition. The senior scored six of her 14 points on fastbreak layups, making one of them just before the halftime buzzer.
Although the semifinal wasn’t very competitive, Scheppler said St. Ignatius’ style of play should help his team get ready for a Mitty squad that has defeated Pinewood in the last five CCS Open finals.
“SI plays really hard, really physical, and I think that’s good for us, as far as preparation goes, for Mitty. They’re not as big as Mitty, but they are physical and tough,” he said. “That means that we’ve got to play every play – making sure that we want the ball, and that every possession we get is going to be strong and tough. That’s going to be crucial toward this game on Friday.”