Basketball

California girls basketball: No. 7 Pinewood stuns No. 5 Mitty

Pennsylvania senior Paige Morningstar named 2020-21 MaxPreps Female Secondary School Competitor of the Year

Senior co-captain Annika Decker, all 5-foot-4 of her, made a fearless drive to the basked among the long arms of Mitty, banked in a contested runner while being fouled with 12 seconds left to give Pinewood its first and only lead of the game.

She converted the free throw to go up 50-48 with 12 seconds left. Fittingly, it was her first bucket of the game as well.

Mitty (13-2), winners of 13 straight, had a couple of inside chances go off the rim before the ball went out of bounds and the horn sounded.

The referees put 1.5 seconds left, Mitty called timeout for one last shot. Sue Phillips drew up a pretty play, but an open 14-footer from straight away was a little long and Pinewood (17-0), ranked seventh in the state, pulled out the victory.

Maia Garcia had 13 points and nine rebounds, Elle Ladine and Courtni Thompson added 11 apiece. A pair of 3s by Thompson, another senior co-captain, keyed the rally which was 15-5 in the fourth quarter.

Sydney Bourland had 13 points and Noemie Bariteau added 12 for Mitty, which was just 3-for-12 from the foul line

Mitty has dominated the series between the two private schools, located less than 10 miles apart in Santa Clara County, winning nine of 10, the lone Pinewood win a 78-67 triple-overtime thriller for the 2018 Northern California Open Division title.

As improbable as that one was, this one seemed even more so when Mitty took a 41-29 lead late in the third following a jumper from Bariteau and fastbreak bucket by Bourland. But the Panthers closed the quarter on a 6-2 run, started with a three-pointer from Chance Bucher.

The two teams didn’t play many close games during the shortened spring season, Mitty winning by an average margin of 76-35 and Pinewood, 71-35.

This was the last game for both teams as Northern California, unlike Southern California, has no regional.

On Thursday, Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said his team first had to believe it could play with the Monarchs, and use last year’s 76-44 loss to Mitty as motivation. The Panthers defeated a very good St. Ignatius team 80-41 in the semifinals on Wednesday.

“It’s been a long road to get to this point with COVID-19, the POD workouts, the total off-season,” Scheppler said. “We kept them on a trajectory and we couldn’t be happier with their progress.”

The Panthers hit the bullseye Friday night.

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