Sonoma Academy girls knocked out, 47-32

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Sonoma Academy finished the season 25-6. BETH SCHLANKER / The Press Democrat file photo

SACRAMENTO — Bradshaw Christian turned out to be as good as advertised Tuesday night, knocking Sonoma Academy out of the CIF Division 5 girls regionals, 47-32

The home team came into the game having won 15 straight while holding opponents to 24 points per game. If those stats aren’t impressive enough, the Pride have won four straight Sacramento-Joaquin Section championships.

Sonoma Academy, to its credit, did not go down without a struggle. The Coyotes trailed 10-9, after one quarter and didn’t fall behind by more than 12 until the fourth quarter.
The Pride opened the final stanza with a 9-1 run, and the Coyotes never recovered.

“Bradshaw plays at a level we hadn’t seen before,” coach Kevin Christensen said. “We couldn’t handle the pressure their defense put on us.”
Sonoma Academy turned the ball over 20 times, most coming while trying to break the Bradshaw press.

Kate Bayes, who came in averaging 22 points per game, finished with 13 and had at least two defenders surrounding her whenever she touched the ball.
That was the game plan, according to Bradshaw senior Jordie Smith.

“We knew all about what Bayes could do and the scouting report said to double- and triple-team her and let her teammates try and beat us.”
Smith, who is going to Vanguard University on a basketball scholarship, finished with a game-high 19.
Sophomore Ashlee Jones was in Bayes’ face most of the night and got help every time the ball got into the point guard’s hands.

“The pressure defense had us flustered,” Bayes said. “They were tall and quick and definitely had one of the best defenses we’ve seen.”
Bayes scored off a steal late in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 34-24.
However, a 3-pointer by Jones and six points by Smith put Bradshaw comfortably in front early in the fourth.

Winning coach Mike Ruble thought the difference in the game was the Pride’s height advantage.

“We have a couple of 6-2 players along with two others that are 5-10 and 5-11,” he said. “They couldn’t match up inside with us. On defense, we made them alter shots. And on offense, we sometimes got two or three put-back shots. We missed 18 shots in close.

“For some reason, we were tentative and we’ll have to play with more intensity to keep going in this tournament.”

Ruble thinks Sonoma Academy will make an impact in Division 5 next year.
“They’ll be fun to watch,” he said. “They only lose one player to graduation and they’ll have Bayes again next year.”

Christensen is also looking ahead.

“We’ve seen some top teams in the postseason and we now know what we have to work on to get to the next level. We have to be able to overcome good defenses like Bradshaw threw at us and we have to take better care of the ball.”
Sophomore Kiana Herold had 10 for the Coyotes while Willow Gallagher (seven) and Tori Gimpel (two) rounded out the scoring.

Sonoma Academy, coming out of the North Central League II-South, finishes 25-6.
Bradshaw (23-9), winner of the Sierra Delta League, advances to Thursday’s second round and will travel to Hamilton.