By BHARATH RAVISHANKAR, ST. FRANCIS
March 3, 2013
Archbishop Mitty captured the first girls’ CCS Open Division championship with a decisive 41-32 victory over West Catholic Athletic League for St. Francis Saturday night at the Leavey Center on the campus of Santa Clara University. Kelli Hayes led the Monarchs with 24 points on an incredible shooting performance, as they defeated the Lancers for the fourth time this season.
“It’s great to be the first ones to win the Open Division title," Hayes said. "It’s really astounding."
Hayes was hot from the tip, as she scored the first seven points of the game. She scored all nine of her team's first quarter points, and 13 of their 18 first-half points.
“Kelli was looking for the basketball, her teammates were looking for her, and she converted on quite a few baskets tonight,” said Mitty coach Sue Phillips.
The Lancers, however, could not get into a rhythm. They did not score until Lauren Johnson hit two free throws with 3:35 in the first quarter to cut the Monarch lead to 7-2. Shelbi Aimonetti then hit a layup in transition for their longest scoring run of the first half. St. Francis shot just 4-of-20 from the field and committed 11 turnovers in the half.
“You’ve got to finish at the rim. I thought we had a few looks there, especially in the first half. In big games, you’ve got to put those away,” said St. Francis coach Brian Harrigan. “You cannot turn the ball over.”
Hayes got back to work in the third quarter to extend Mitty’s 18-13 halftime lead, as she scored five of the first seven points in the half.
Down 25-13, the Lancers finally sprung to life and went on a run. Kate Hoey hit a free throw, and then a layup to cut the lead to nine. Then, Jennifer Lucian converted a three-point play, and Hoey hit another layup to get within five. But Hayes had an answer, as she hit a mid-range jumper from the elbow to swing the momentum back to Mitty.
“I was just playing,” said Hayes. “We played against a good team, and it’s really hard to beat a team four times, so I feel like we played well as a team. Our guards, like Vanessa [Garner], it was hard for her to score today because they were clogging the paint on her, so it gave opportunities for others of us to score.”
The Monarchs kept the Lancers at a distance in the fourth quarter, as the Lancers never got closer than seven points. Mitty was able to get the victory despite everyone but Hayes shooting 6-of-34 from the field.
“For some reason, the rest of the team seemed a little out of sync offensively, but I think we need to give credit to our opponent, and their ability to defend and take us out of stuff,” said Phillips. “This is our fourth time playing them, so I don’t think there are too many more tricks in the bag.”
Hayes shot 8-of-12 from the field and 8-of-8 from the free throw line, and added three steals and two blocks.
NiaJai Crag pulled down five offensive rebounds for the Monarchs (8 total) and also had two blocks for the Monarchs.
The biggest problem for the Lancers was shooting. They were never able to get into a rhythm offensively, and were not very aggressive on offense. They shot 11-of-46 for the game, and only had nine free-throw attempts to Mitty’s 13.
For the Lancers, Lucian finished with 13 points, eight of which came in the fourth quarter, and five rebounds. Aimonetti had nine points and four rebounds, and Johnson had five points and five rebounds.
The Monarchs advance to the Northern California playoffs (NorCals) and are expected to be the sixth seed and face Miramonte. The Lancers drop down to Division II for NorCals.