By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
The host Sonoma Academy girls’ basketball team had two long scoring droughts in Friday night’s game against North Central League II rival St. Vincent and it almost cost the Coyotes the win.
Despite Sonoma Academy’s (9-2, 3-0) double-dosage of scoring starvation — occurring in the mid-second quarter and early in the fourth quarter — the Coyotes held on to win 44-39.
At the end of three quarters Sonoma Academy led 34-28 and seemed to have the game in hand.
However, in the first four minutes of the fourth quarter the Mustangs (7-5, 0-2) went on an 8-0 run capped by a jumper by St. Vincent’s Maddie Perry.
Suddenly trailing 36-34, Sonoma Academy then rallied to retake the lead a few moments later and outscored St. Vincent 10-3 in the game’s final four minutes for the victory.
“They went on an 8-0 run to start the fourth quarter and our girls stuck with it,” Sonoma Academy coach Kevin Christensen. “St. Vincent is a very good team, one of the best teams we have played all year.”
Sonoma Academy started the game by building a 12-5 lead with 10 seconds to play in the first quarter.
A few minutes later, with 5:40 to play in the second quarter, the Coyotes maintained a 15-9 lead when suddenly there was a metaphorical lid on the Sonoma Academy basket. The Coyotes went more than five minutes without scoring.
“We were getting good looks at the basket; we just weren’t converting,” Christensen said. “(But) our defense was spectacular tonight — it was what won us the game.”
Indeed, in the end it was the Sonoma Academy defensive aggressiveness that proved St. Vincent’s undoing.
The Coyotes full-court press caused frequent disruptions for the offensive flow for the Mustangs and resulted in St. Vincent miscues.
“We turned the ball over a little too much.” St. Vincent coach Jim Fagundes said. “Sonoma Academy gave us trouble with their press and their trap.”
Even in a losing effort, the Mustangs hung tough during several junctures of the game when it appeared that Sonoma Academy might break away.
“We are still working on some things but we are getting better,” Fagundes said. “I just love how hard my girls play. We will be there in the second half of the season.”
Sonoma Academy played without its starting freshman point guard Chloe Colbert who was out sick. The Coyotes where led by Savannah Stoughton with 14 points and Willow Gallagher with 12 points.
Both players also led the Coyotes defensive effort.
“Willow and Savannah up at the top (of the key) in our defensive zone were incredible,” Christensen said.
St. Vincent was led by Grace Jennings with 17 points.
Ursyla Baumgarten played well and came up with 12 points and a workmanlike 11 rebounds on the block.
“Because we focused on her (Baumgarten) she didn’t get 15 or 20 boards,” Christensen said.
St. Vincent won the battle of three pointers with four to Sonoma Academy’s one.