CIF girls basketball: St. Vincent continues postseason success

By ALLIE COLOSKY
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The miracle of the St. Vincent’s Lady Mustangs season continued in the first round of the CIF playoffs as they beat the Ripon Christian Knights, 46-33, Wednesday in Petaluma.

Ellie O’Niell and Rebecca Odele nailed three- and two three-pointers, respectfully, in St. Vincent’s home win. O’Niell finished with nine points and three rebounds, while Odele had eight points.

“I’ve been in a slump,” O’Niell said, “I’ve just kept shooting and it just worked tonight. My whole family was here for us tonight, and our fans were here supporting us. I was excited and I wanted to win.”

The Mustangs held on to no more than a two-point lead throughout the first half as the Knights continued to pressure every shot.

“We had to be a little more patient on offense,” said head coach Jim Fagundes. “We tried attacking from the high posts a little more, instead.”

Olivia DeGraca controlled the boards for St. Vincent, finishing with nine rebounds and seven points. DeGarca said the crowd helped “amp up the players,” making them all play harder.

“Our crowd really came out and we weren’t expecting that,” she said. “The team was really supportive, as well.”

St. Vincent opened the second half with a two-point lead, but a 13-4 run in the third quarter and multiple steals in the fourth quarter sparked the runaway.

“Our motto has always been ‘the first three minutes,’” DeGraca said. “We just went hard and we got it.”

The ability to put pressure on their opponent and run a fast-tempo game in the first three minutes allowed the Mustangs to set the pace for the rest of the quarter, O’Niell said.

“It gives us that rhythm and drive for the rest of the game,” she said.

The Mustangs saw many players contributing as Jacalyn Murphy also had eight points and five rebounds, while Grace Jennings and Ursyla Baumgarten each added six points.

Teagan Manus led the Ripon Christian offense with 11 points. Nicole Graham added eight points, while Adri Van Groningen, Ellen Blankers, and Carly Tillema each had four points.

Elizabeth Regusci added a bucket, as well.

The Mustangs were only out rebounded 33-31, but forced the Knights to commit 24 turnovers.

Their defense has been the foundation for success all year, said Fagundes, and it was crucial again tonight.

“When we go through stretches of not scoring, our defense is always what keeps us in it,” Fagundes said.

With the win, the Mustangs improved to 26-7 overall and will travel to the East Bay for the second round of the CIF playoffs on Saturday at Eastside Prep in Palo Alto. Fresh legs and continued ball movement will be the key, Fagundes said.

“They’re going to very athletic,” he said, “so we are going to have to value the ball a little bit more.”

After making school history with St. Vincent’s first North Coast Section Championship game appearance, the “Miracle Mustangs” continue to push the expectations for this season as they eye the second round of the state playoffs.

“We are just excited to be here,” O’Niell said. “We weren’t expected to make it past the second game and now we’ve made history. If we lose, it doesn’t matter.”

For the Mustangs, she said, the only thing they can focus on is the next four quarters.

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