Analy, Santa Rosa girls lead way into postseason

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Empire’s best (Analy) and the region’s hottest (Santa Rosa) are the top seeds for the girls basketball league playoffs.

The North Bay League playoffs open Tuesday with Maria Carrillo at Santa Rosa and Montgomery visiting Ursuline. The winners meet Friday at Santa Rosa Junior College.

On Thursday, the Sonoma County League playoffs match Petaluma at Analy and Sonoma Valley going to Casa Grande. The winners play Saturday at SRJC.
Analy and Santa Rosa are the favorites because they are the fastest and most talented among the playoff teams.

Going undefeated in league play, Analy (20-5, 12-0 SCL) has been most consistent, owing to strong guard play and an effective pressure defense.

Guards Katy Lowry averages 16 points per game and Kelley Benck adds eight. Forwards Chelsea Pricert and Molly Schuster anchor a formidable low post with three players averaging five or more rebounds — Pricert with 10 a game. On defense the Tigers are fast from end-to-end, averaging nine steals per contest.

Winners of eight in a row, Santa Rosa (19-7, 12-2 NBL) is scoring more and defending better. The Panthers average 56 points per game. During the winning streak, Santa Rosa yielded 38 points a game to opponents, including victories over Ursuline, Maria Carrillo and Montgomery.

A balanced scoring bunch, Santa Rosa is getting its top production with three players averaging double figures — McKennen Bertsch scores 12, Hannah Sourek 11 and Shawnee Philips 10 per game. Bertsch and Sourek lead a formidable rebounding effort, with the Panthers averaging 38 boards per game. Rachel Brumfield is a steadying influence at point guard.

A look at the remaining league playoff teams:

Ursuline (18-8, 11-3 NBL): The Bears need defense to keep games close and enough scoring to support sharpshooter Jordan Henry. Mckenzie Mangino has been an inside presence and Elisa Vargas is playing with greater confidence at point guard. Still, Henry can carry Ursuline, particularly when she is driving and getting to the free throw line.

Montgomery (20-6, 11-3 NBL): The Vikings ended a three-game skid — their first league losses — with a season-ending win to regain confidence. Montgomery needs scoring from someone other than Anandi Jimenez (15 points and nine rebounds a game) and Sarah Fitzgerald (nine points and four assists). Guard Chantal Evett and forward Claire Donnelly lead a deep group of young players.

Maria Carrillo (15-10, 9-4 NBL): After winning four in a row following the loss of leading scorer and sparkplug Taylor Graham, the Pumas dropped two straight before a close win against Ukiah. Struggling to score all season, Maria Carrillo needs production from a handful of players — Madison Sowards and Emily Wilson have been most consistent of late. Defense and quickness remain the Pumas’ strengths.

Casa Grande (17-9, 9-3 SCL): After a season of looking for consistent scoring, the Gauchos are scoring six points more per contest during the second half of league play. Sophomores Lyndsey Murnin and Kiana Davis are finding their shots to complement Stephanie Sack, the slashing assists machine who is equally prolific on the outside. Davis and Elaine Weaver give Casa Grande much-needed rebounding and defense near the basket.

Sonoma Valley (16-10, 8-4 SCL): The Dragons are here because of defense, having allowed more than 40 points in only one league game this season. Scoring remains a challenge as Ellie Ceja (11 points per game) and Annie Studdert (eight per game) carry a team that needs quality over quantity shooting the ball. Sonoma Valley averages a solid 35 rebounds a game.

Petaluma (13-13, 6-6 SCL): The record says it all. Petaluma has been steady, not streaky. The Trojans clinched the final SCL playoff berth with a win at home over Windsor Tuesday, assuring that even Thursday’s loss wouldn’t matter. Lindsey Stoll has carried the scoring with Jordan Shyne also contributing big minutes on offense and rebounding.