By JOHN MURPHY
March 7, 2013
The Burlingame girls' sterling season, during which it won 28 games and its first section title in 25 years, came to a sad ending Tuesday night.
The Panthers, before a packed house, fell to Modesto Christian 48-34 in their CIF-State Northern California Regional Division III opener.
Burlingame was off its game, making just two three-pointers and struggling to stop the energetic Crusaders inside.
"We shot the ball terrible, we got out-rebounded and we didn't play very well," Burlingame coach Bill Lepeltak said.
Almost in the same breath, Lepeltak extolled a season during which the Panthers achieved so much.
"Nobody thought we were going to win the PAL-South, nobody thought we were going to win the PAL playoffs and nobody thought we had a chance in (heck) of winning the CCS playoffs. We went 28-3," Lepeltak said. "But they wanted to go out playing their best game and they didn't, and the coach wanted to go out coaching his best game and he didn't either. But the bottom line is one game doesn't take away from a fantastic season. What we went through -- struggling for an identity and struggling to get along and to be able to do what they did this season, it's unbelievable."
Burlingame went 28-49 during the previous three seasons before Lepeltak took over.
Panther senior forward Nina Newman lamented her team's subpar performance, but agreed it was a great season.
"I'm going to think about how much fun we had," she said. "It (the season) was a great way to go out. Three losses doesn't defeat 28 wins."
Modesto Christian led 22-13 at the half, but Burlingame rallied in front of it enthusiastic home crowd.
Newman's short jumper moved the Panthers to within 28-24 with 2:26 left in the third quarter, but then the Crusaders out-scored Burlingame 18-3 during the next eight minutes to blow the game open. Crusader guard Ashley Lucas bedeviled the Panthers with three 3-pointers during that span.
The Crusaders were more aggressive than the Panthers on the boards and held Burlingame's high-scoring duo of Dana Michaels and Lauren Rally to just 14 points. Newman scored eight points and took 12 rebounds.
Modesto Christian's trio of Lucas, Lexi Tubbs and Stephanie Moore did a nice job of clamping down on Michaels and Rally.
The Crusaders (22-9) will now play at Enterprise of Chico at 6 p.m. Saturday in the second round.
John Murphy may be reached at jmurphy@Prep2Prep.com.