Montgomery On Top In First Half Of NBL Girls’ Basketball Play

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Tight games among the top teams have marked the first half of the regular season for North Bay League girls’ basketball, promising a spirited second-half slate.

Montgomery is undefeated in the NBL going into Friday’s contest against Rancho Cotate. Still, the Vikings (15-3, 6-0 NBL) recognize Santa Rosa, Ursuline and Maria Carrillo can knock Montgomery from the top spot.

“Nobody’s really pulling away from anyone else. The majority of these games were very close, very competitive,” said Montgomery coach Steve Bell.

That the Vikings have a two-game lead following Wednesday’s contests is thanks in part to the other three teams beating up on each other.

“The best we can do is recover. We would like to close out the league undefeated,” said Ursuline coach Jeff Paul.

The top four faced off earlier this week.

Down a point after two quarters, Montgomery pulled away from Santa Rosa for the win. Anandi Jimenez led with 19 points and 12 rebounds, Sarah Fitzgerald had 10 assists. Chantal Evett scored nine, again providing a steady scoring option along with Kelsey Dayton.

“Confidence is building with this group,” Bell said.

Strong rebounding, particularly on offense, is a big strength for Santa Rosa and was evident against Montgomery on Wednesday. Hannah Sourek pulled down 12 boards and McKennan Bertsch 11 for the game. Sourek and Bertsch also lead a balanced scoring attack with four players averaging nine points or better — Shawnee Phillips and Katie Daly are the others. But the Panthers (11-7, 4-2) are in a shooting funk and need to regroup to stay in the hunt for the league title.

“It’s just a bump in the road that we’ve hit,” said Santa Rosa coach Steve Chisholm.

Across town, Ursuline, behind 34 points from Jordan Henry, broke open a close game against Maria Carrillo in the second half of Wednesday’s game. The Bears (11-7, 4-2) also got 12 points from McKenzie Mangino.

“As long as we can keep the game close, we’ve got a chance. Defense is the key for us,” Paul said.

Maria Carrillo (10-7, 4-2) won’t outscore opponents despite the presence of strong shooters on the roster like Taylor Graham and the Aaliyah and Madison Sowards. The Pumas rely on quickness and full-court defense.

The remainder of the league is scraping for wins with Rancho Cotate the best of the bunch (7-10, 3-3). Following are Piner (5-12, 1-5), Ukiah (4-14, 1-5) and Elsie Allen (1-16, 1-5).