Brumfield leads SR girls over Rancho

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

ROHNERT PARK — For Santa Rosa High point guard Rachel Brumfield, Christmas came late this year. But it was well worth the wait.

After missing all of last season because of a torn ACL, the 5-foot-4 senior dreamed about the night when she would be able to take the court for the start of the 2010-’11 North Bay League season.

Santa Rosa's Rachel Brumfield drives against Rancho Cotate's Erin Skinner. Photo by Christa Jeremiason / Press Democrat

On Tuesday night, her dream came true as she was in the starting lineup for the Panthers as they opened league play with a 67-52 victory over host Rancho Cotate.

Brumfield was so hyped, she scored seven points in the first quarter — more than her pre-league average of 6.4 a game. She finished with 14 and was close to double figures in assists.

“You have no idea how good this feels,” Brumfield said afterward. “I was so depressed after the injury. Basketball is an important part of my life and to miss a whole year, it was devastating.”

The timing of Brumfield’s injury also haunted her.

“It was in the last two minutes of the last game of the summer league,” Brumfield said. “A player fouled me as I was going for a layup and I came down wrong. I knew immediately it was a bad sprain or something worse.”

It proved worse, as tests showed she had torn her right anterior cruciate ligament. Dr. Kent Yinger performed the surgery and following an intense rehabilitation period, Brumfield began shooting hoops again last May.
Through the summer, she began testing the knee more and more, as coach Steve Chisholm brought her along slowly. By late November, when the Panthers began pre-league play, Brumfield was ready to go all out.

She still wears a protective brace, but from the way she played Tuesday, it’s obvious her knee problem is history. She consistently was on the front end of fast breaks, scoring all her baskets on layups.

Santa Rosa (7-4) needed all of Brumfield’s ball-handling skills as had to pick up the slack for injured starting guard Shawnee Phillips. The team’s second-leading scorer has missed six games with a sprained ankle. The senior will return Thursday against Ukiah.

Tuesday’s game was close until Santa Rosa opened the fourth quarter with an 11-0 run. That ballooned the lead from 46-39 to 57-39 with 5:42 left in the game. McKennan Bertsch had six points during the pivotal run while Kendra Newton nailed a 3-pointer and Katie Daly added a basket.

“I’m really excited by our team this year,” Brumfield said. “It’s the best we’ve had since I’ve been at Santa Rosa. After the long wait, it feels so good to be back.”

Santa Rosa has won six of its past seven games.

Bertsch, who came in averaging 12 points, finished with 19. Hannah Sourek, the Panthers’ other starting forward, had 17.
Rancho Cotate (4-7) was without starter Keilani Fronda and top substitute Serenity Orloff.

Freshman Kristine Ricossa picked up the slack with 19 points, including a trio of 3-pointers. The Cougars hit nine shots from beyond the arc. Ricossa and Holly Cramer each had three.

Cramer is usually Rancho’s leading scorer, but she was held scoreless until the fourth quarter. Santa Rosa defenders swarmed the senior every time she touched the ball.

Center Erin Skinner had 14 for Rancho, 12 of those in the first half.

Cougars’ coach Doug Haught saw plenty of positives.

“Hey, it was a one-point game at half (28-27),” he said. “We missed Fronda and Orloff, especially in the second half. I’ve got three freshmen and three sophomores on the team, so we’re still gaining experience.

“Santa Rosa is a tough team. They’re going to be one of the top teams in league. We made a good comeback after they jumped out to a lead in the first quarter. We’re definitely coming the right way.”