Analy girls win seventh straight

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

SEBASTOPOL — After losing 2009 Empire Player of the Year Jen Tsurumoto to graduation, some thought this would be a down year for Analy.

Guess again.

Analy's Chelsea Pricert looks to pass as Casa Grande's Lyndsey Murnin defends. Photo by Crista Jeremiason / Press Democrat

The Tigers hardly looked like like a bottom-tier club as they dismantled Sonoma County League foe Casa Grande, 55-40, Tuesday night for their seventh straight victory.

“We’ve heard all the talk about Sonoma and Casa being the favorites to win league this year,” coach Earl Pasamonte said. “It’s turned out to be motivation for us because the girls come out and play with a chip on our shoulders. We’re the defending league champs and I think we’re going to repeat this year.”

Analy looked the part against Casa, never trailing. The Tigers led 16-5 after one quarter and didn’t allow the Gauchos to get closer than six after halftime.
Losing Tsurumoto and her 20-points-per-game average meant Analy had to change its style of play. The Tigers have done that.

“With Jen, we were one-dimensional on offense,” Pasamonte said. “Our opponents were willing to let her get her 20 points and focus on shutting down the other four players. Now, teams can’t defend us that way because we have four or five girls capable of scoring double figures. Opposing defenses can’t double team us.”

Tsurumoto, a 5-foot-6 guard, is playing at Santa Rosa JC this year.

Against Casa, guard Kelley Benck stepped up and scored a career-best 22 points, 12 in the second half.

“We miss Jen, but we play much more as a unit this year,” Benck said. “We’re getting confident that each one of us can have a big scoring night. This was my turn.”

Benck had a feeling she was going to have a big night.

“A few weeks ago, I jammed the thumb on my shooting hand and it affected how I released the ball,” the junior said. “Tonight, it felt back to normal.”

Analy lost five of its first six non-league games, but Pasamonte said the record doesn’t tell the whole story.

“We played a very tough pre-conference schedule,” he said. “Most of the teams we lost to are in the top 25 in the North Coast Section rankings. They are probably better than the teams we’ll play in our league.”

The Tigers lost away from home to Sacred Heart Cathedral, Vanden, Acalanes, Dougherty Valley and Justin-Siena.

Analy is 4-0 on its home court. Overall, the Tigers are 8-5 and 2-0 in league.

“This group is definitely better defensively than last year,” Pasamonte said. “We help each other and we’ve got decent height, which makes players driving the lane adjust their shots.”

Stephanie Sack had a brilliant game for the Gauchos. Playing with an upset stomach, the guard managed to score 24 points. She was equally adept driving to the basket as she was from long range.

Her father, Dan Sack, is Casa’s coach.

“We are going to have to get more physical if we’re going to contend for league,” he said. “We’re just not doing the job. We also have to rebound better.”

The Gauchos are 9-7 and 1-2 in league.