Winners of its last three Tri-County Athletic League games – including back-to-back victories over San Benito and North Salinas – the Gilroy High girls basketball team came into Thursday night’s contest against first-place Notre Dame with upset in mind.
However, with a chance to reach .500 in TCAL play, the Mustangs dug themselves a hole too deep in the first half and simply ran out of gas in the fourth quarter trying claw their way out en route to a 44-32 loss to the Spirits.
The Mustangs had little answers for the Spirits on both ends of the floor in the first half. And, the most telling tale Thursday was the turnovers. Gilroy surrendered 32 turnovers to the Spirits – 10 of those in the second quarter where Notre Dame expanded a reasonable 13-7 advantage into a 25-10 cushion at the half.
“This team and Hollister are the two teams in our league that we have the hardest time matching up win,” GHS head coach Kort Jensen Said. “They extend their man defense and we struggle to get into an offense.”
Needing a spark, the Mustangs went to a full-court press defense and pushed the pace on offense. The switches produced results as in 10 Spirits turnovers, and Athena Alarcon supplied the Mustangs with all 11 points in the third quarter to inch GHS back into the game, 28-21, entering the fourth.
Notre Dame scored the first seven points of the final quarter and increased its lead to 35-21 midway through. A Kaylana Mah 3-pointer made it 39-30 with 1:40 to play, but it was too little, too late.
“We had to push the pace to get some easy buckets because we weren’t scoring in half court,” Jensen said. “Then we just had no legs. They tried, but got beat by a better team.”
Alarcon finished with those 11 points she scored in the third, Mah had five, Ashlee Williams contributed eight and Brianna Barron four. For the Spirits, Anacecilia Ceja had eight points, Alyxis Guerra and Kiera Paulo each had nine.
The Mustangs (10-11, 4-6 TCAL) play twice next week to conclude the regular season. Playoffs hinge on victories over two teams with winning records – at Alisal (11-10, 6-3) on Feb. 14 and home to Salinas (15-6, 7-3) Feb. 16. The Spirits received a boost back into a tie for first with Salinas after San Benito beat the Cowboys on Thursday night.
The Monterey Bay League’s leading scorer Josh Mooney erupted for a game-high 39 points, playing a huge part in spoiling Christopher High’s Senior Night on Thursday.
Mooney pumped in 13 of the 39 in the first quarter as the Mustangs turned a quick start into an 82-63 victory.
“We just had too many turnovers as a team in the first quarter,” said head coach Kaden Bahner, whose Cougars fell behind 26-9 after the first eight minutes. “That certainly didn’t get us out to a good start. We did not have any answer for Mooney in the first quarter.”
The Cougars trailed 42-31 at the half after outscoring the Mustangs 22-16 in the second. It was 57-43 at the end of the third.
Evan Shapiro and Dillon Babb shared the team-high for CHS with 12 points and Andrew Foster had 10.
Seniors DJ Campos, Nick Cordova, Peter Hilkene, Frankie Castillo and Babb were honored prior to the game.
“I want to thank our seniors for their hard work and dedication to this program for the past three years,” Bahner said.
The Cougars’ (8-16 overall, 4-8 MBL) season isn’t over yet. By virtue of placing fifth, CHS will participate in the MBL’s postseason tournament. Bahner said the Cougars will most likely play Monday at Seaside. A time has yet to be determined.
The Gilroy High girls soccer team isn’t used to losing much in Tri-County Athletic League play. So after a 2-0 loss to San Benito on Tuesday, the Mustangs got back to what they do best Thursday.
Cynthia Sanchez scored twice, and the Mustangs defeated visiting Alvarez 5-0.
Taylor Slattery, Connie Contreras and Katrina Carter had the other goals, while Sanchez, Contreras, Morgan Rogers and Kiara Santamaria were credited with assists.
The final week of the season is shaping up to be quite a thrill. After a visit to North Salinas on Tuesday, the Mustangs (10-6-1, 8-8-1 TCAL), who are in second place, host first-place Salinas (8-0-3) in the season finale Feb. 17. A GHS victory would mean a share of the league title with the Cowboys. GHS is the five-time defending league champion.
• The Christopher High girls soccer team locked up a postseason spot with a crucial 4-2 triumph over host North Monterey County on Thursday.
The Cougars (11-5-1 overall, 8-1-1 Monterey Bay League) can finish no worse than second place and will earn one of the two automatic bids into sectionals.
Emma Morley (2), Jamie Lanz and Alondra Villanueva tallied for the Cougars on Thursday.
CHS can grab a share of first place with a win over Watsonville at home on Tuesday. The Wildcatz (8-5-2, 10-1) defeated CHS 5-1 on Jan. 19.
Game time Tuesday is 3:30 p.m.