The Monarchs traveled to Stockton with sophomore guard Monique Coquilla on crutches with a sprained MCL injury. Coquilla, who said she should return for the playoffs, recently scored 27 points in a win over East Anchorage, Alaska. Junior guard Mary-Eileen Gallagher also was playing in her first game after being out almost two weeks with a pulled quadricep muscle.
"St. Mary's is a great team, but we are pretty beat up right now," said Mitty coach Sue Phillips. "If we could have erased two 30 second spans it could have been a different game."
The most crucial of those spans came in the fourth quarter when St. Mary's went from leading by two to leading by eight. The Rams also had a 12-0 run in the first quarter that jumped them out to a 17-4 lead. But Mitty had its runs, too. The Monarchs had a 12-0 run the first half and led by 41-33 after scoring the first basket of the second half.
One of the heroes for St. Mary's was sophomore forward Stacey Amick. She's usually in the shadow of teammates Dominique Banks, Renee Roberts and Tracy Ducker, but in the fourth quarter of the tight game against Mitty it was Amick who hustled her way to nine of her 11 points.
"She did a great job," said St. Mary's coach Tom Gonsalves. "She plays with so much heart and she's going to give it to you every single time."
Gonsalves also said it was important the Rams were able to adjust from their normal all-out pressing style of play.
"It was a great playoff atmosphere out there, and we had to make adjustments throughout the game," Gonsalves said. "They broke our press a lot, so we had to beat them with our half-court defense."
St. Mary's also beat them with Roberts firing away from the outside and with Banks scoring on drives to the bucket or on put-backs. Roberts, only a freshman, nailed five shots from 3-point land and finished with 17 points. Banks, one of the top juniors in the state, finished with a game-high 22 points. Ducker, a 6-foot-1 junior, added 17 as well.
Combined with 6-foot-1 Lorissa Ewing, who is also a junior, St. Mary's has the potential to crack the FAB 50 national rankings next season.
Mitty might be even better next season. Emile Crofton, a 5-10 junior forward, took scoring honors for Mitty with 20 points. Three other Monarchs all scored 12 points -- Gallagher, 6-4 center Jenna Green and 5-9 forward Khaliah Daniels. All four will be back next season as well as Coquilla. But while St. Mary's could have a question mark next year at the point guard spot, Mitty will be more than fine with Gallagher.
But before worrying about next year, this year's Northern Regional and state playoffs could see Mitty go far in Division I and St. Mary's in Division II.
ALSO IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA ON SATURDAY:
Boys Div. III No. 2 Riordan of San Francisco was upset, 62-54 in overtime, by host Serra of San Mateo.
Girls NorCal overall No. 1 Pinewood of Los Altos Hills breezed past Vallejo, 59-39, at the Sacramento Challenge.
Girls Div. IV No. 1 Marin Catholic knocked off Kennedy of Sacramento, 59-39. Kennedy entered the game No. 1 in the Sacramento Bee's area rankings.
Girls NorCal-ranked Berkeley ran past Div. II state No. 10 Amador Valley, 68-56, and continued its late-season surge.