NCS girls basketball tournament: End of the road for Sonoma Academy

Convent of Sacred Heart's Ariana Abdulmassih shoots as Sonoma Academy's Clara Spars, center, and Savannah Stoughton, right, defends during the game held at Sonoma Academy, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

Convent of Sacred Heart’s Ariana Abdulmassih shoots as Sonoma Academy’s Clara Spars, center, and Savannah Stoughton, right, defends during the game held at Sonoma Academy, Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015. (CRISTA JEREMIASON / The Press Democrat)

By ALLIE COLOSKY

FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

The Sonoma Academy girls basketball team had its stellar season come to an end Wednesday night as it fell 54-36 to Convent of Sacred Heart.

“We grew so much as a team,” Sonoma Academy junior Clara Spars said. “At the beginning of the season, we had no idea how great of an experience this would be and we never knew we would come this far.”

In the first round of the North Coast Section Division 5 playoffs, the Coyotes were able to gain a quick lead, working with fast transitions to get on the board, Spars said.

Spars helped push Sonoma Academy to a 7-0 lead as she went 3-for-4 from the free-throw line.

The Coyotes found their success this season in their ability to move together in one fluid motion, Spars said, allowing for quicker transitions.

“Throughout the season, we’ve really learned how to read each other,” she added. “We know how to move with each other and that’s a huge part of our offense.”

But Sacred Heart was swift to make adjustments to the Coyotes’ defense, and a 3-pointer from Alyssa Alvarez gave the Cubs a nine-point lead heading into halftime.

Despite forcing 11 Sacred Heart turnovers and outrebounding the Cubs 32-25, head coach Kevin Christenson said that they couldn’t keep their momentum.

“We usually force a few more turnovers,” he said, “and we just didn’t capitalize on those opportunities tonight.”

Sonoma Academy’s Savannah Stoughton came alive in the second half, scoring 12 of her total 15 points in the Coyotes’ second-half rally.

“We switched from zone to man,” Stoughton said of the defensive adjustment, “and that really just provided a lot of energy in general.”

The focus was a lot more direct in the second half, as well, said Stoughton, but the Coyotes struggled to contain Sacred Heart’s Ariana Abdulmassih.

“It’s pretty deflating for a defense when you can play solid defense for 25 seconds and then in the last five seconds they get a shot on you,” Christenson added.

Abdulmassih could put up a 3-pointer in your face or drive to the basket, Stoughton said, and everything went in the basket.

“They just made shots,” she said. “We went up 7-0 on them in transitions and then they broke us down. They were better shooters.”

(See more photos from the game)

Abdulmassih finished with 17 points and seven rebounds for the Cubs, while Alvarez recorded 15 points and three rebounds.

Stoughton finished with 15 points and three rebounds, while Spars recorded seven points and snagged seven rebounds for the Coyotes.

Chloe Colbert added seven points and four rebounds, and Stacey Olson hit a 3-pointer and grabbed six rebounds.

Lauren Reed added a bucket and pulled down six rebounds, while Autumn Racherbaumer added two points to round out the Coyotes offense.

Colbert also had three steals.

Sonoma Academy posted a final season record of 13-1 in the North Central II League.

“I was unsure how the season would go,” Stoughton said, “but it has just been such a fun season, especially because we get to watch the freshmen grow and develop.”