GIRLS HOOPS: Cougars’ upset bid snubbed by Condors

Christopher's Merrett Brown drives down the court as North

A slim three-point halftime hole snowballed into an
insurmountable 18-point deficit by the end of the third quarter as
the Condors ultimately clipped the Cougars’ upset aspirations 56-33
on Wednesday night in Gilroy.
With first place North Monterey County in town, the Christopher High girls basketball team had a Monterey Bay League upset on its mind.

And for the first half, the Cougars were on par with that idea.

“We feel like if we play our game the way that we can, we have the ability to play for four quarters and can compete and contest for victories against teams like that,” CHS head coach Heather Stewart said.

Neither team shot the ball particularly well in the first half and with North County’s leading scorer Priscilla Mora, who had 26 points in the teams’ first meeting this season, on the bench in a bit of foul trouble, the opportunities were there for the Cougars.

However, a slim three-point halftime hole snowballed into an insurmountable 18-point deficit by the end of the third quarter as the Condors ultimately clipped the Cougars’ upset aspirations 56-33 on Wednesday night in Gilroy.

The situation rang eerily similar to that first matchup on Jan. 4. The Cougars (4-11, 1-6 MBL) trailed by just five points heading into the fourth quarter before the Condors (13-6, 7-0 MBL) doubled up CHS in the final period to grab a 45-33 victory.

“We played them the same way last time,” Stewart said. “We had a small deficit and decided to take a quarter off and they made a run.”

Down 11-7 two minutes into the second quarter a Sophia Amelio bucket and Haylee Peterson put back bookended a Condors’ converted free throw and left the Cougars down 12-11 with four minutes to play in the half. Maddie Peterson put CHS on top 13-12 with a baseline jumper after separating herself from her defender with a crafty ball fake.

North County regained a narrow edge but Merrett Brown knotted things once more at 16-all with 16 seconds to go. Marlee Delgado hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Condors the three-point lead into the locker room.

Untimely turnovers spelled doom as the third quarter got underway. Not only were the Cougars robbing themselves of offensive possessions but those turnovers were easily turned into uncontested lay-ups on the other end.

“We had 24 turnovers and our best players didn’t step up tonight,” Stewart said. “You can’t allow teams to leak out on you like that.”

The Condors outscore CHS 20-5 in the decisive third to take a 39-21 lead into the fourth. The Cougars showed resilience and played the Condors relatively even (17-13) the rest of the way.

“If you take away the third quarter, which you can’t, it’s a close game,” Stewart said.

The one-two scoring punch of Hanna Tabron and Brown struggled from the field, posting seven and nine points, respectively as the Cougars shot just 21 percent.

Amelio and Maddie Peterson each finished with five points while Jenni Sigl had four.

“All the pieces are there but the coaching staff has to keep in mind that we are a first-year program,” Stewart said. “It will click. The girls really felt like they had a chance to compete tonight, and they did, except for one quarter.”

The Cougars continue league play at Seaside on Friday. CHS fell just short against the Spartans on Jan. 6, losing 38-32. Game time is slated for 7 p.m.

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