CIF State Championships: Too tall an order for Casa girls


SAN FRANCISCO — All season long, Casa Grande coach Dan Sack worried about what would happen when his undersized Gauchos had to play a much taller team in the postseason.

Saturday night, his worst fears were realized as host St. Ignatius ended Casa’s season, 63-49, in the second round of the CIF Division 2 State Championships.

The Wildcats had five players 5-foot-10 or taller; Casa’s tallest player was 5-foot-9.
Four of the tallest St. Ignatius players accounted for 56 points. A majority of their baskets were in the paint.

Casa, to its credit, pulled to within 44-40 with 4:50 remaining. However, St. Ignatius went on a 12-0 run in less than two minutes.

Sydney Raggio, a 5-foot-11 freshman, did most of the late damage, scoring 11 points in the fourth quarter.

Gretchen Harrigan, the Sonoma County League’s most valuable player, was outstanding in her final high school game. The 5-foot-9 forward scored a game-high 26 points. Most of those came while going to the basket and challenging taller defenders.

“We tried everything trying to stop Harrigan,” said Wildcats coach Michael Mulkerrins. “We had no answer. We play in a very tough league (West Catholic), and she would be first team all-league, no doubt about it."
Harrigan, who will play for Chico State next year, also had 11 rebounds, three steals, three assists and a block.

The only other Gauchos to score were guards Lyndsey Murnin and Stephanie Sack. Murnin finished with 17 points, including four of her five 3-pointers in the second half.
Sack, also ending an illustrious high school career, had six points to go along with seven assists and two steals.

“We played hard, but St. Ignatius was just too tall,” Sack said. “We never quit trying.”
Harrigan, who has been ailing with strep throat, took the loss hard.

“I don’t want it to be over,” she said with tears in her eyes. “This is so hard. My teammates have been my family and this was the last time we’ll be on the court together. I’m not ready for it to end.”

Coach Dan Sack was succinct in his post-game remarks.

“The ‘bigs’ really hurt us,” he said. “It seemed like all their players were bigger than us. They were able to get position in the middle, post up and dominate the boards. On defense, we didn’t rotate to the weak side the way we should have and they made us pay.

“Their team is the total package, every player they put on the court is a threat.”

Two of the Wildcats’ best players are freshmen. Raggio, who came in with a seven-point average, finished with 21 and also had nine rebounds. Six-foot-1 Josie Little, their other first-year starter, scored 16 points and pulled down 12 rebounds.

The game didn’t get out of hand until the final four minutes. Casa trailed 23-17 at the half. Little scored a basket underneath on an in-bounds play just before the buzzer sounded to increase the lead.

The Wildcats scored 10 points by using their height on out-of-bounds plays from underneath their basket.

“Those were key points for us,” Mulkerrins said. “You can do that against a smaller opponent.
“We changed the pace up in the second half, going to a match-up zone and running the court better. I thought we had more depth than Casa and it looked like they got fatigued in the final minutes when we were able to pull away.”

St. Ignatius (26-5), co-champs of the West Catholic League with Archbishop Mitty, moves on to Tuesday’s quarterfinals.

Casa Grande ends its season with a 31-3 record.