Santa Cruz Excessive’s Linneah Keence shoots towards host Aptos in an SCCAL recreation on Tuesday. (John Lee – Santa Cruz Sentinel)
APTOS — Santa Cruz Excessive’s women basketball workforce was enjoying good protection, however it wanted somebody to step up on offense to achieve some separation from feisty Aptos in a battle of the Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League’s prime two groups Tuesday.
Karolina Espinosa delivered. The sophomore ahead scored 10 of her game-high 21 factors within the fourth quarter, and the Cardinals pulled away from the Mariners for a 47-39 win to safe their third straight league title.
“It actually means lots, as a result of now we’re league champions, which we’ve completed the previous two years, so it’s actual thrilling for us,” Espinosa stated.
Actually, the Cardinals have gained 4 straight league titles, when you rely the COVID-19 season. The SCCAL had a two-division setup in 2020-21 that featured all 13 faculties from Santa Cruz County. (Santa Cruz went 10-0 within the SCCAL ‘A’ Division, and beat Aptos for the Central Coast Part Division III title to complete 16-0.)
The Cardinals are 37-2 in league video games over the previous 4 years. They shut their common season with a house recreation towards San Lorenzo Valley on Friday at 6 p.m.
“It’s enormous, 9-0 in league,” Cardinals coach Todd Trowbridge stated. “We haven’t misplaced in two years in league. However I advised you final time, I advised you they have been going to be prepared. My women have been prepared. We lose and we tie for first place with them. We don’t need to tie for first place.”
Aptos (15-7, 7-2) closes its common season with a house recreation towards Harbor on Friday at 6 p.m.
Tuesday’s battle was a much more aggressive recreation than the groups’ first assembly on Jan. 12, when the host Cardinals rolled to a 68-35 win.
“We performed a lot tougher,” Mariners coach Bruce Funk stated. “Pictures weren’t falling, however numerous that it’s a must to give credit score to Santa Cruz. We simply gave up too many offensive rebounds. However, we have been proper there, a shot right here or a shot there. They’ll say the identical factor. They missed numerous pictures. However we’ll take the trouble and, hopefully, we see them once more.”
The factor that remained the identical was the Cardinals’ stress protection, which hasn’t allowed a league opponent to achieve 40 factors in a recreation this season.
“In all places,” Trowbridge stated. “Fingers up, getting within the passing lanes, bothering them … They’ve bought good shooters. They’ve bought three women who can put the ball up and shoot it. We needed to rise up and get a hand of their face.”
The Cardinals led 29-27 early within the fourth when Espinosa took over. She made three discipline targets and 4 free throws throughout a 16-9 run.
Keying a number of of Espinosa’s baskets was heart Ava Lord, who battled for offensive rebounds towards bodily Abby Sherwood and despatched the ball out to her open teammate to file some dirty-work assists.
“We don’t win that recreation with out Ava Lord on the finish,” Trowbridge stated.
Espinosa’s older sister, Natalia, a senior, scored 10 factors for the Cardinals. Tiera O’Connor, who scored a game-high 24 factors within the groups’ first assembly, was held to 6 factors. Linneah Keence added 5 factors.
“We advised them earlier than the sport, ‘Play for one another.’ ” Trowbridge stated. ” ‘You try this, now we have the sport.’ ”
Aptos freshman guard Gabby Wickham scored 10 of her team-high 12 factors within the second half. She made a pair of 3-pointers within the fourth quarter to maintain the Mariners in competition.
“She’s a very good participant,” Trowbridge stated. “She’s going to be robust to cope with the subsequent three years. I’m not wanting ahead to it.”
Senior Laurel Southall made three of the Mariners’ eight 3s and completed with 9 factors. Eliya Sanchez and Sherwood every scored six factors.
Funk was happy with his gamers for his or her continued improvement. Seven of them are returners from a workforce that went 8-18 final season.
“I believe we’ve made super enhancements,” Funk stated.
Santa Cruz went practically 5 minutes and not using a discipline objective to open the sport, however it solely trailed 3-2. It scored six factors within the remaining 1:08 of the opening stanza and entered the second quarter down 9-7.
Each groups’ struggles on offense continued for the primary 4 minutes of the second quarter. The Cardinals made 4 layups throughout an 8-2 run to shut first half and entered the break with a 20-14 lead.
Every workforce made a pair of 3s within the third quarter — they have been the one discipline targets. Aptos made six free throws to assist their trigger and entered the fourth trailing 29-26.
That was Karolina Espinosa’s cue.