NCS girls basketball: Bertsch takes control for Santa Rosa

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Morgan Bertsch scored 25 points to lead the Santa Rosa girls’ basketball team to a 69-56 NCS Division 1 playoff win over the visiting Foothill Falcons on Friday night in Santa Rosa.

“Very few posts in the area can stop Morgan. She’s outstanding,” Santa Rosa head coach Steve Chisholm said of the Panthers’ center. “Our game plan was to get the ball into (Bertsch) and we did a good job of that.”

The Panthers were off to a slow start, scoring just two points in the first five minutes.

Led by Kylie Oden, who hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, Santa Rosa then flipped the switch and forced seven turnovers.

“We weren’t ready for them to come out like that,” Oden said. “I hit that first three and the energy behind it got the crowd going. I just knew we were not going to lose.”

Oden finished with 10 points and three rebounds.

“I felt like I had an advantage,” Bertsch said of her height, “so I just did my best to take advantage of the mismatch.”

It was the quick pace of the pressure defense and breakaway pattern that the Panthers have relied on all season that enabled them to jump out to a 19-8 lead after the quarter.

“We got some good defensive stops and then our shots started to fall,” Chisholm said. “We got our transition game started and that opened everything else up.”

Santa Rosa’s quick run only took two minutes for the Panthers to grab the lead.

“The intensity needs to stay up if we want to make it to the state game,” Oden said. “Collectively, we agreed that we weren’t going to let them score.”

The Falcons chipped away at the Panthers’ lead in the second quarter, led by Emily Barrett, who recorded nine of her 16 points in the first half.

Barrett finished with six rebounds, as well.

“We knew we had to step up in order to hold onto our really big lead,” Bertsch said of the second half.

Defensively, the Panthers came out of the locker room in full force after halftime. Led by Devin Murray, who scored 16 points, Santa Rosa held the Falcons to only seven points in the third quarter.

“They started to get back into it and it started to get emotional for us,” Murray said.

The ability to stay calm and collected at the free throw line in the fourth quarter was the result of countless practice shots, she said.

Murray finished with nine rebounds for the Panthers, while Emily Codding recorded 15 points and three rebounds.

“Devin had one of her best overall games tonight,” Chisholm said.

Sara Howard added two points and Katie Daly recorded a free throw, as well.

Daly sat out the second half after hitting her head in the opening minutes of the second half.

“She seems to be OK, but we will know more in the next few days,” Chisholm said. “It’s scary considering all the injuries we’ve had. We thought we were coming out of (a run of injuries) but, nope.”

Bertsch, who is only in her third game back on the court since suffering her own concussion, said it is a wonder that the Panthers keep working past the multiple injuries.

“Without Katie, it was hard to get the ball up the court,” Bertsch said. “It’s nice that we are able to power through and still accomplish so much.”

The Falcons were led by Barrett and Caroline McMorrow, who finished with nine points and seven rebounds.

Marianne Fernandez and Hannah Biehl both finished with seven points, while Olivia Brown had six.

Daniella Lyng and Nikki Costello recorded five points each, and Sammi Roney chipped in two points.

The third-seeded Panthers improved their overall record to 27-3 and will travel to face No. 2 seed Berkeley (20-7) on Wednesday night. Berkeley scored a 77-45 victory over Pittsburg on Friday night.

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