The Mendocino High girls varsity basketball squad continued their extraordinary season last week in mixed fashion last week, convincingly beating Emery in the opening game of NCS playoffs before losing the League title match against Rincon Valley Christian in Santa Rosa Saturday night.
One result of last week's action is a new banner for their home gymnasium won by the Cards by claiming second place in the NCS League. And the girls will continue their journey in the State Championships playoffs when they square off against Valley Christian in Roseville on March 8 (after this issue goes to press).
Mendo opened the week against the Emery (Emeryville) High on March 1 by delivering an after-school lesson in the fundamentals of the game to the Spartans on the way to a 58-34 victory. The win against Emery sent the girls on a high note into their next game, for the NCS Division 6 Title, played on March 4 in Santa Rosa. In the Rincon Valley Christian Eagles, the Cardinals faced a a different type of team.
For a start, these Eagle girls played defense. Not extraordinary, but defense nonetheless, pressure that Mendocino typically applies to their opponents. This time the tables were turned and the Eagle pressure was enough to throw Mendo off its game.
Secondly, Rincon Valley had three players that matched up size-wise with Tayler Kolby-Kishbaugh, the Cards big sophomore center and a standout all year. Eagle size inside the paint overwhelmed the Cards and enabled Rincon to dominate the rebounding game. The defense pressure, combined with the Eagles on the boards made it very difficult for Mendocino to put points on the scoreboard. And thus the final was Rincon Valley 47 Mendocino 36.
Mendocino had a rough start and was outscored 16-6 in the first quarter, and as the teams went in for halftime, Mendo was down 37-11. Perhaps Cardinal Coach Vince Lee made a very influential pep talk to his team at half, because they came out fighting and actually won the second half on points, but it was not nearly enough to overcome the deficit created in the first 16 minutes.
Mendocino was led by Emily Miller with 12 points, but Cardinal guns were cold for the most part. Though she only scored 5 points Cardinal guard and team captain Emily Symonds was a force in the game with 7 assists, 3 steals and a blocked shot. Perhaps most importantly, Symonds muscled her way to 8 rebounds, second on the team to Kolby-Kishbaugh, with 10 who had to fight off Eagles and was fouled heavily all night.
It was characteristic of this Cardinal team that at the very end, with 17 seconds to go and their team down by 11, both Kolby-Kishbaugh and Emily Miller were diving for the same loose ball.
The Cards will travel to Roseville on Wednesday to play Valley Christian in Round 4 of the do-or-die State Championships.