Stripe for the picking

Gilroy’s senior center Amanda Link looks to score in the paint

San Jose
– Sometimes a game is closer than the final score appears.
Sometimes it’s not as close as the numbers on the scoreboard would
indicate.
On very rare occasions, it’s both.
San Jose – Sometimes a game is closer than the final score appears. Sometimes it’s not as close as the numbers on the scoreboard would indicate.

On very rare occasions, it’s both.

Saturday night’s 63-52 Gilroy win over Milpitas in the Central Coast Section playoffs was one of those highly unusual games. The Mustangs dominated the first three quarters, going on an 11-0 run to open the second and a 7-0 run to kick off the third as they cruised to a 22-point lead going into the final period.

That’s when everything broke down for the No. 3 seed in the CCS Division I girls’ basketball quarterfinals.

Milpitas, led by sophomore guard Ganeaya Rogers’ slashing drives to the hoop, went on a 12-2 run and had cut Gilroy’s lead to just nine with four minutes to go after a 3-pointer by Kim Cawley and a two from Sukhjit Athwal. The momentum was clearly on the Trojans’ side as normally indefatigable Mustang point guard Kristen Campos began having trouble bringing the ball past half court.

The Gilroy offense, so poised through three quarters, began to sputter. Turnovers, bad shots and just plain fatigue led to a Milpitas rally that had all the signs of a miracle comeback in the making.

That’s when it all came together for the favored ‘Stangs.

After trading baskets, the score with 1:37 left stood at 53-44, with the Trojans still charging. A foul on Kendall Costa put the senior forward at the line. She’d already gone 5-for-5 from the charity stripe in the third quarter and calmly sank two more to get the Gilroy lead back up into double digits.

The Trojans would go on to score another six points in the next minute-and-a-half. The Mustangs, unable to keep up with the pace on the floor, made do with clutch shooting from the only place they had to catch their breath, the free throw line.

Katherine Hussey sank two on a technical foul. Gilroy got the ball back, promptly lost it, gave up a layup and quickly found itself back at the charity stripe, where Marissa Nowakowski sank 1-of-2.

In all, the ‘Stangs were 10-of-14 from the line in the fourth and scored their last nine points on free throws.

Milpitas, exploding for 27 points in the final quarter after managing just 25 in the first three, found itself in a hole even its spirited rally couldn’t overcome.

For Gilroy, heading into today’s semifinal against the No. 1 team in DI, Santa Clara’s Wilcox, Saturday night’s fourth quarter is both heartening and worrisome. True, they had trouble with an athletic team down the stretch, but they also proved they had what it takes to win when things aren’t going smoothly.

Mustangs 63

Trojans 52

Scoring

1st 2nd 3rd 4th Tot.

Milpitas 6 10 9 27 52

Gilroy 16 13 18 16 75

MILPITAS (12-14)

Rogers 5 3-3 14, Wong 5 2-2 12, Athwal 4 0-0 8, Bottorff 3 0-0 6, Nichols 2 2-2 6, Lara 1 0-0 3, Cawley 1 0-0 3.

3-pointers: Rogers, Lara, Cawley.

GILROY (20-9)

Campos 4 4-4 15, Hussey 6 2-3 14, Costa 2 7-7 11, Link 4 0-3 8, Mancera 2 1-2 5, DiFiore 2 0-0 4, Groppe 2 0-0 4, Nowakowski 0 2-5 2.

3-pointers: Campos (3).

UP NEXT:

No. 1 Wilcox

League: SCVAL-EC (1)

Record: 25-2

Players to watch:

De. Ballerfirst, 17.7 ppg

Da. Ballerfirst, 14.6 ppg

Where: Leland High Main Gym, San Jose

When: Today, 6pm

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