Two underdog basketball teams traveled afar to bounce Memorial High out of the Northern California Regionals in a Saturday night doubleheader at the Panthers’ gym.
First, Mt. Shasta’s 14th-seeded girls, who one might have expected to tire down the stretch in the Division V quarterfinals after traveling 400 miles to get to Fresno, appeared quite spry in the second half in defeating No. 6 Memorial 47-39.
“We don’t let our confidence get down just because it’s not our gym,” Emily Andrus said after scoring 15 of her 19 points in the second half for the Bears of the Northern Section.
It’s really tough for us when we’re playing against four, five or six seniors in his rotation. We’re looking forward to having (the experience) he has.
Memorial coach Santino Reynolds on his young Panthers after a loss to veteran Mt. Shasta and coach Kirk Andrus
Then Del Oro-Loomis’ 13th-seeded boys, after traveling 190 miles from northeast of Sacramento, lost all but two of a 16-point lead in the third quarter only to regroup behind Trevor Drake to repel the No. 5 Panthers 66-56 in D-II.
“I guess we started to get used to away crowds, so here we are,” said Drake, a 6-foot-7, left-handed senior who delivered six straight points on baseline drives, giving the Golden Eagles a 50-42 lead with 5 minutes remaining.
“Those six points were kind of the dagger,” Panthers coach Brad Roznovsky said. “We didn’t have an answer for (Drake) defensively down there.”
I thought for sure we had them.
Freshman Jalen Green, who charged a Memorial comeback that reduced a 16-point deficit to two.
Memorial (26-7), down 38-22, had closed to 40-38 entering the fourth quarter behind a highlight reel choreographed by freshman Jalen Green.
“I thought for sure we had them,” said the recent 16U USA National Team selection, who scored 11 of his 25 points in the final 4 minutes of the third quarter on a 3-pointer from the left baseline and free throw for a crowd-inspiring four-point play, a 3-pointer from the right baseline, a fastbreak layup and a baseline drive.
25 Points by Green
But Del Oro (18-14) opened the fourth with a Murphy Harrison 3-pointer before Drake took over.
“When you make a run to get back in it against a really good team, you use so much energy,” said Roznovsky, who, in addition to Green, started two sophomores and two juniors. “They came right back at us and we couldn’t get over the hump.”
Del Oro has caught fire late, winning 75-52 as a 12 seed in the Sac-Joaquin Section D-II quarters against No. 4 Grant-Sacramento and, on Wednesday, conquering another fourth seed, Bishop O’Dowd-Oakland, 62-55, in a regional first-rounder.
Stone Smartt, a 6-3 senior guard headed to Northern Arizona as a quarterback, led the Eagles with 25 points.
Sophomore Deon Stroud and junior Lunden Taylor scored 15 and 10 points for Memorial, the Central Section D-II runner-up.
Mt. Shasta’s girls arrived Friday night in a convoy of cars.
And the Northern Section team came well qualified from near the Oregon border with a 25-5 record to play 24-8 Memorial.
Further, the Bears arrived in a roar, having won 59-52 in Wednesday’s first round at third-seeded St. Bernard’s-Eureka.
That spared sixth-seeded Memorial a 450-mile trip, had St. Bernard’s won.
So it was Mt. Shasta for the long haul, yet it betrayed the odds by spinning a 22-21 halftime deficit into a 32-24 lead entering the fourth as Andrus scored 10 of her team’s points.
We’re here to prove we shouldn’t have been ranked 14th.
Mt. Shasta’s Emily Andrus
“We’re here to prove we shouldn’t have been ranked 14th,” said Andrus, whose senior presence was evident against a Panthers team starting three sophomores among a roster of 11 freshmen and sophomores overall.
The Central Section D-V champions received 13 points from Symya Murray and 11 points and 11 rebounds from Lucy Parks, both sophomores.
“It’s really tough for us when we’re playing against four, five or six seniors in their rotation,” Memorial coach Santino Reynolds said. “We’re looking forward to having (that experience). Eventually, we’ll get there.”