Redwood Empire Invitational: Middletown beats Ukiah in overtime


HEALDSBURG — Middletown never led in regulation, but dominated overtime as the Lady Mustangs defeated Ukiah, 43-37, Wednesday night in an opening-round game of the 63rd Redwood Empire Invitational Basketball Tournament.

After trailing by as many as 10 points in the second quarter, Middletown finally pulled even at 33-33 with a minute left in the fourth. Ukiah missed four free throws in the final minute. After dodging those bullets, the Mustangs took control in the four minute extra period.

Jenny Hoefer’s lay-up one minute into overtime gave the Mustangs their first lead. Ukiah’s Kylie Wright tied the game with two free throws, but momentum had shifted.

Middletown closed out the game with an 8-2 run as Amber Ramponi, Brooke Jackson and Hoefer scored baskets and Amber Hart nailed two free throws.

The Mustangs were playing on the road for the second night in a row. They lost to El Molino on Tuesday.

Hart, who scored a career-high 17 and also pulled down nine rebounds, said she and her teammates were tired early in the fourth quarter.

“We were dragging a little because we’d been behind all game and it didn’t look like we’d catch up,” the center said. “To be honest, when I walked in the gym I thought we were going to get our butts kicked. Ukiah’s an NBL team plus everyone was feeling tired after playing El Molino (Tuesday on the road) and spending the day in school.”

It was 32-26 with five minutes left in regulation when Middletown began its comeback. Hart nailed one of her three 3-pointers and Rachel Sutton connected from just inside the 3-point line to narrow the lead to one. Ukiah’s Hailey Young hit a free throw and Hart swished a 17-footer to knot the score.

“When Ukiah missed those four free throws and we realized the game was going to overtime, adrenaline took over,” Hart said. “They got a little flat-footed in the overtime and once we started believing we could win this game, everyone’s energy level went way up.”

Coach Tony Hart stresses conditioning drills in practice and said afterward, the increased stamina played a big role in the victory.

“The girls had every reason to be dragging late in the second night of back-to-back games,” he said. “All that running we do gave the girls stamina late in the game and in overtime.

“I always tell the girls they have to believe in themselves. They don’t realize how good they can be. This was just the confidence boost they needed.”

Middletown, a member of the North Central I League, is now 2-2 and on Friday will play the winner of tonight’s game between Healdsburg and Roseland Prep.

Middletown’s Kristiana Outen was the game’s top rebounder with 12.

It was the second tough defeat of the week for Ukiah. Monday, the Wildcats lost at home to Windsor, 49-48.

“In most of our games this season, we’ve either had the lead in the second half or been close,” coach David Downey said. “This group won’t give up. They rally around each other.”

Ukiah will play the loser of the Healdsburg-Roseland Prep on Friday at Healdsburg Junior High.

In the other girls game Wednesday, Willits defeated Piner, 63-29. The Wolverines scored 28 in the third quarter.

Whitney Dunham had 20 for the winners and Alicia Mehtlan added 18.

BOYS: HEALDSBURG 51, LOWER LAKE 28: Ryan Rochioli had a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds in Healdsburg’s win against Lower Lake on Wednesday.

The Hounds went on a quick 11-2 run to start the game, led 29-10 at halftime and cruised to the 23-point win.

Cameron Lutz had a solid game for Healdsburg with nine points, seven assists and six steals. Junior Kenneth Evans led all scorers with 12 points. 

Lower Lake was led by senior Jeff Davis, who had 11 points and 10 rebounds.

Press Democrat sports intern Daniel Poulter contributed to this report.

63rd Annual Redwood Empire Invitational Basketball Tournament
At Healdsburg High School

Wednesday's results
Girls bracket
Willits 63, Piner 29
Middletown 43, Ukiah 37 (OT)
Boys bracket
Marin Catholic 70, Middletown 52
Healdsburg 51, Lower Lake 28

Thursday's schedule

Maria Carrillo vs. El Molino, 4 p.m.
Ukiah vs. Amador, 5:30 p.m.
Rancho Cotate vs. McKinleyville, 7 p.m.
Roseland Prep vs. Healdburg, 8:30 p.m.



Marin Catholic 70, Middletown 52
Marin Catholic    25   19   15   11–70
Middletown           9   20     9    14–52
MC-David Ahern 21,  Patrick Conroy 18, Logan Stone 18
Mid.-Nick Delia 22, D.J. Brookshire 8

Healdsburg 51, Lower Lake 28
Lower Lake         4      6   5   13–28
Healdsburg       18   11   7   15–51
LL-Jeff Davis 11, Jesse Meldrum 8.
Heald.-Kenneth Evans 12 (four 3s), Ryan Rochioli 11, Cameron Lutz 9

Notable: In Friday's second round winner's bracket, Healdsburg plays the winner of today's game between Ukiah and Amador while Marin Catholic faces the winner of today's match-up between Maria Carrillo and El Molino.


Middletown 43, Ukiah 37, OT
Ukiah              9   10   6     8    4–37
Middletown    4     9   9   11  10–43
Uk.-Kylee Wright 13, Kate Mayfield 10, Sarina Goforth 8, Hailey Young 4, Rylee Bennett 2,
Mid.-Amber Hart 17, Rachel Sutton, Jenny Hoefer 6, Amber Ramponi 6, Kristina Outen 4, Brooke Jackson 2.
Records: Uk. 1-5, Mid. 2-2

Willits 63, Piner 29
Willits        15   12   28     8–63
Piner            4    5    10   10–29
Will.-Whitney Dunham 20, Alicia Mehtlan 18, Emma Dawson 8.
Pin.: Kayzlinn Mercado 6, Georgina Avalos 4.
Records: Will. 3-2, Pin. 1-4