Santa Rosa girls win NCS opener

Santa Rosa’s Rachel Brumfield goes up for a shot as Mount Eden’s Brianna Johnson defends during Tuesday night’s NCS playoff game at Santa Rosa High. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

For the first time in school history, the Santa Rosa High girls basketball team has made it to the second round of the North Coast Section tournament.
And, after the way the Panthers dismantled Mount Eden, 54-26, in the Division 2 opener Tuesday night, this group will handle the uncharted waters just fine.
Up next for No. 3 seed Santa Rosa is a home game against No. 11 American. The Fremont team, out of the Mission Valley League, upset No. 6 Casa Grande, 50-46, on Tuesday.
Santa Rosa came out with the intensity to make history against Mount Eden. The Panthers scored the game’s first 14 points, seven of those by senior guard Shawnee Phillips.
Mount Eden turned the ball over eight times before scoring its first basket with 2:20 left in the quarter.
The No. 13-seeded Cougars never cut the deficit below double digits the rest of the way.
“Santa Rosa is a seasoned, good ball club,” losing coach Chauncy Haynes said. “They’d be top three in our league and we’ve got some good teams like Bishop O’Dowd and Hayward. “We didn’t get back in transition early and Santa Rosa got off to that big lead. My kids are young and being in NCS and in a new gym, they were nervous.”
It was the 10th straight win for the Panthers. During the streak they took first in the North Bay League and last week captured the NBL postseason tournament. They are 22-8.
“We made history,” coach Steve Chisholm said with a relieved sigh. “I’m not quite sure when the NCS started having a girls basketball tournament, but I know the program at our school has been going on at least 35 years.”
Chisholm had not scouted Mount Eden (11-15) and had only one day to prepare since the seedings were announced on Sunday.
“The only thing I could tell my girls was that we needed to play our game which is pushing the ball down the court on offense and playing tight defense,” he said. “Once the game got going, it was obvious we were the more athletic team.”
Hannah Sourek led the Santa Rosa scoring with 16, six above her average. The forward also had three blocks and six rebounds.
“We didn’t know what to expect since we hadn’t seen Mount Eden play,” she said. “When we got out to the quick lead and our defense was forcing turnovers, we knew we could win the game big.
“You can’t get over-confident, though. I just kept telling myself it was a close game and I needed to play hard on every possession.”
Phillips scored 13 points, all in the first half. Rachel Brumfield finished with nine to go along with four assists and steals. Freshman guard Katie Daly had four steals and four rebounds to go along with four points.
Santa Rosa will have revenge on its mind Friday. Two years ago, American eliminated the Panthers, 50-34, in the first round of NCS.
“The seniors we have now were sophomores then,” Chisholm said. “The nucleus of our club has improved a lot since then. Also, that game was in Fremont. Friday, they’re coming to us.”