Bishop O'Dowd gathers for a photo for family and fans as the Dragons defeated Miramonte in the CIF NorCal quarterfinals
Scott A Giorgianni

Bishop O'Dowd topples Mats again

March 1, 2019

OAKLAND, CA – The Bishop O’Dowd girls captured their NCS Division II Championship versus Miramonte behind the offense of Kennedy Johnson and the defense of Jada Holland, and in Thursday’s CIF State quarterfinal rematch of the two teams, the Dragons relied on the same.

The ebb and flow was different, with each team going on at least one game-turning run, but in the end four-seed Bishop O’Dowd was again victorious, defeating five-seed Miramonte 72-50 at Laney College.

Johnson scored a game-high 24 points, despite only having one free throw attempt, a missed one at that. Eleven of her total, and eight of Amaya Bonner’s 12, came in the fourth quarter when the Dragons blew the lid off a modest five-point lead with which they started the frame.

“We got back to moving on offense,” McCord said about the fourth. “We took their three’s away, we were getting to the basket, we had open looks, and we were fine. I told the girls this floor’s a little bit bigger, so utilize it.”

Holland and Jenna Kilty contributed nine and 11 points respectively for Bishop O’Dowd (22-9), and each figured prominently in the result. Holland, the Grand Canyon University-commit point guard, was her usual terrific self throughout, with four rebounds, three assists, and two blocks alone in the second quarter, and three dimes in the fourth. Kilty made arguably the three biggest shots of the night – back-to-back-to-back three-pointers all in the last 1:23 of the first half, expanding a 28-20 advantage to a 37-23 halftime nod.

McCord noticed that Kilty was “lighting it up in warm-ups” and said of Holland, “She might not put up a bunch of points, but she dictated our tempo on defense.”

Miramonte (28-4), paced by 13 points from Erin Tarasow – the only Matador in double figures – had a 12-4 push that lasted a good portion of the third that brought them within reach; then Tarasow capped another 8-0 spurt with a three-pointer that made it 48-46 O’Dowd at the half.

The fourth quarter nightmare for Miramonte began about two-and-a-half minutes in, when Bonner gave the Dragons a 54-49 lead. Less than three minutes later, the gap ballooned to 16, as O’Dowd opened up the offense and ran the floor.

“Our coach told us they were probably going to be more compacted in their defense, because a lot of our points last time were in the paint,” Johnson stated. “(In the fourth) We knew that they were tired. He was just like, ‘Keep pushing the ball, grab the rebound, and just go.’”

“My teammates made it easier…for me to score in the end,” Bonner remarked.

Half of the Dragons’ 10 field goals in the quarter came on an assist, and when the buzzer sounded the season was over for a shocked Miramonte squad that, despite falling short in the NCS finale 64-59 and then losing this game by 22, had every reason to be proud of their accomplishments in the 2018-19 season. The Matadors figure to be even more prominent next season, as the only departure of note figures to be Emily Huston – one of only two Matador seniors.

O’Dowd, meanwhile, has been in a team in transition this entire campaign, having dealt with numerous injuries, including ones to both Holland and Johnson. But this has perhaps been a blessing in disguise, as the freshman Bonner, role players like Kilty, and solid starters like Kayla Hankins (who had 11 tonight) have all been more battle-tested than expected. As McCord has acknowledged, the Dragons are jelling at the right time.

“They’ve come a long way and had to deal with a lot of injuries all season, and now it’s starting to come together,” McCord added.

On Saturday evening O’Dowd will face eight seed McClatchy, which upset top seed Sacramento 51-45. Despite being a four-seed, the Dragons are the highest seed left in girls Division I; six-seed Bear Creek beat 14-seed St. Francis (which had eliminated three-seed Cardinal Newman) and will play seven-seed Antelope, which upset two-seed Heritage with a late 16-1 run in its 53-48 victory.

To visit GameCenter for this game, please click here

Are you a high school student interested in a career in sports journalism? For more information, please click here.