By JOHN MURPHY
March 2, 2013
The Presentation girls basketball team has no superstars -- no McDonald's All-Americans or Division I recruits.
But it's a tight group with an excellent team concept and on Friday night those qualities paid off for the Panthers. They defeated Woodside 49-34 at Santa Clara High for the Central Coast Section Division II title, and couldn't have been happier afterward.
"It's amazing, it's unbelievable and it's emotional," said Presentation's Courtney Danna who led her team with 15 points and 12 rebounds. "We play really well together. Our chemistry is amazing on and off the court. We're like a family; we're always together, 24-7."
Presentation led 34-24 at the half, but Woodside crept to within 27-25 on a putback by Madison Michelis with 1:08 left in the third quarter.
The Panthers, after dominating most of the game, entered the fourth quarter ahead just 30-27.
But then Presentation came to life, scoring the first 11 points of the fourth quarter to go up 43-27 with 4:06 left and secure its victory and a trip to the Northern California Division II tournament.
Danna, who suffered a bloody nose from a head butt late in the third quarter, said she was concerned when Woodside rallied.
"I was (worried) because I was on the bench, getting my nose cleaned up," Danna said. "I looked up at the scoreboard and I was like 'We're only up two points.' I needed to get back in there."
Akilah Jennings had five of those 11 consecutive Panther points, including a three-pointer that ballooned Presentation's lead to 41-27. Before they knew it, the Panthers were hugging and crying and posing for photos at mid-court.
Presentation coach Wade Nakamura said his team's trials in the West Catholic Athletic League -- a fifth-place finish -- paid dividends as the Panthers won the third section title in school history and second in three years.
"We've faced a lot of tough competition this year," Nakamura said. "Unfortunately for us, most of the time we came out on the losing side. But I told them that we needed to use those 25 games of experience and the practice we've had to put it all together and make it work."
Tied 9-9 after one quarter, Presentation (13-15) outscored Woodside (23-6) 15-5 in the second quarter. Danna had five points and took four rebounds in the period.
Woodside made a spirited run in the third quarter, but ultimately couldn't stay with the gritty, experienced Panthers.
"It's all about experience," Woodside coach Hayley Grossman said. "My girls have never seen CCS and playoffs -- they're not used to that."
Despite the loss it was a stellar season for the Wildcats, playing in their first section title game.
"I'm very happy we made it this far," Grossman said. "It was an exciting ride. I'm very proud of them."
Tianna Williams led Woodside with 11 points and 15 rebounds and Michelis added 10 points and 17 rebounds. Woodside out-rebounded Presentation 42-41, but committed 11 more turnovers.
For Pres, Maddie Guidoux backed Danna's big effort with 12 points.
John Murphy may be reached at jmurphy@Prep2Prep.com.