A night of perfection for Memorial High basketball had the Panthers sweep a home-court girls/boys doubleheader in Northern California regional openers Wednesday night while receiving some stunning help elsewhere.
First, Memorial’s sixth-seeded girls bolted to an 8-0 lead and remained in control wire-to-wire to defeat No. 11 Mariposa County 51-39 in Division V.
Then the Panthers’ fifth-seeded boys received nine of Lunden Taylor’s 22 points while outscoring No. 12 Las Lomas-Walnut Creek 23-11 in the fourth quarter of a 68-55 victory in D-II.
Both Memorial teams, given wins, expected to travel Saturday in the quarterfinals.
Not going to happen.
They will remain home for yet another doubleheader because 14th-seeded Mt. Shasta conquered No. 3 St. Bernard’s-Eureka 59-52 in D-V girls and No. 13 Del Oro-Loomis defeated No. 4 Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland 62-55 in D-II boys.
That means the Panthers’ 24-8 girls will play Mt. Shasta (25-5) at 5 p.m. and their 26-6 boys will oppose Del Oro (17-14) at 7 p.m.
Try a 450-mile bus trip to Eureka for Memorial’s girls.
“I’m really enjoying this,” Memorial girls coach Santino Reynolds said. “I love staying here for the weekend.”
Memorial boys coach Brad Roznovsky noted his team is 16-1 at home in two seasons.
“We play well here; we’re comfortable here,” he said.
Regarding the Del Oro and Mt. Shasta wins, he added: “It’s March and there are upsets in March.”
His team avoided one in large part to Taylor, a junior three-year starting guard.
He delivered a drive, a 3-pointer and a floater in a 13-3 Memorial run that spun a 44-41 late third-quarter deficit into a 54-47 fourth-quarter lead against Las Lomas of the North Coast Section.
“Lunden was big and we ran some stuff for him,” Roznovsky said. “They had trouble guarding him, and it’s our job as a staff to take advantage of mismatches.”
Freshman Jalen Green had seven of his 18 points in the fourth quarter for the Panthers, and sophomore Milton Burnett finished with 13 points.
In the opener, Memorial’s girls bolted to an 8-0 lead on two layups by Symya Murray, a reverse layup by Courtney Anaya following a Murray steal and two Mikaela Mangente free throws.
The Panthers had seven steals in the quarter against the Grizzlies, who didn’t remotely find any rhythm until well into the third.
And, in addition to Memorial’s defense, there was one profound reason for it – the absence of Kirsten Dubberke.
The Southern League Most Valuable Player sat on her team’s bench out of uniform eight days after tearing an ACL in the final seconds of a 43-35 loss to Argonaut-Jackson in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-V semifinals.
That removed team-leading averages of 18.8 points and 9.9 rebounds from Mariposa County (25-5).
“Definitely hurt,” Grizzlies coach Trace Desandres said. “We were just out of sorts, shaky and tentative.”
Reynolds agreed: “Her being out was a huge loss for them. We were aware of that before the game.”
The Panthers – starting three sophomores among a roster with a total of 11 freshmen and sophomores overall – received 14 and 10 points from sophomores Jada Shakoor and Murray.
They outrebounded Mariposa County 36-23 behind freshman Sarah Garrett (eight), sophomore Lucy Parks (seven) and junior Anaya (five).
But their MVP of the night may have been sophomore guard Mangente off the bench. She scored nine points, distributed the ball well and was outstanding defensively.
“She’s a speedster,” Reynolds said, “and I like bringing that off the bench. Everybody’s tired and she’s ready to roll. She’s been playing really well the last couple games.”