Henry shreds Montgomery, knots NBL race

Montgomery's Kiana Hawkins tries to stop Ursuline's Jordan Henry from driving to the basket during the game held at Ursuline, Feb. 4, 2011. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Ursuline, behind 32 points from Jordan Henry, defeated Montgomery, 74-60, at home Friday night and tightened up the North Bay League basketball standings considerably with one week remaining in the regular season.

Montgomery, losing its second straight after 10 consecutive league wins, is now tied with Santa Rosa. Both are 10-2 and will meet Tuesday night at the Vikings’ gym. The Panthers defeated Maria Carrillo, 41-36, Friday night.

Montgomery concludes its regular season Thursday at Rancho Cotate while the Panthers host Piner that same night.

Ursuline and Maria Carrillo are still in the hunt, each sporting a 9-3 record.

The Bears got off to an 11-0 start Friday and enjoyed a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

Henry got Ursuline off and running with 11 points in the first quarter. The senior nailed three 3-pointers, with her other basket coming on a fast break.

Ursuline drained nine shots from behind the arc in the first half while racing to a 39-16 lead.

“They put us on our heels right from the start,” Montgomery coach Steve Bell said. “They were on fire. Henry got into a rhythm and then her teammates got going.

“We came out in the second half and played hard. I was proud of my girls for fighting back. I said before the league season started that it was going to be a close race and that’s the way it’s turned out.”

Henry, who came into the game averaging 21.7 points, had 19 at intermission.

The 5-foot-8 senior wound up making five of seven 3-point attempts and was 13 of 15 from the foul line. This season, she’s making 83 percent of her free throws.

“It was nice to hit the 3s again,” Henry said. “I’d been in a shooting slump. We practiced our shooting for a long time on Thursday and I figured out I had been shooting the ball too flat. Once I started  getting an arc on the ball, the shots started falling again.”

The guard came into Friday’s game shooting 30 percent from the field this season.

It wasn’t Henry’s highest scoring effort of the season. She got 35 against Hercules on Dec. 21. She also scored 34 points twice this season — against Casa Grande on Dec. 7 and against Maria Carrillo on Jan. 19 — and put up 30 against Justin-Siena on Dec. 16.

When the teams met Jan. 15 at Montgomery, the Vikings won, 52-51, in overtime. Ursuline led by five early in the extra period, but Sarah Fitzgerald’s two free throws in the waning seconds were the difference.

This time around, Bears coach Jeff Paul devised a defensive scheme to bottle up point guard Fitzgerald.

“We picked her up at half-court and tried to keep her from setting up her teammates,” he said. “I think we were able to disrupt their offense and we had a great shooting night.

“Our point guard, Elisa Vargas, had an exceptional game. She got everyone involved in the offense.”

The junior had 13 points and five assists.

McKenzie Mangino contributed 14 points and had a team-high 11 rebounds.

Anandi Jimenez led the Vikings with 16 points, one above her average. Fitzgerald had 12.

Montgomery got within 55-42 in the final minute of the third quarter, but the lead ballooned to 20 when Henry hit a bank shot from five feet with 4:47 remaining.

Ursuline’s season record is 16-8 while Montgomery is 19-5.