GIRLS BASKETBALL: No. 2-seed Lady Mustangs upset by No. 10 Menlo Atherton

Junior Chelsea Hill sacrifices her body, diving for a loose

SANTA CLARA – Despite a strong third-quarter surge to cut an
eight-point halftime deficit to three points heading into the
fourth quarter, and a Sovi Nou 3-pointer to tie the contest with
1:30 left, the Gilroy High girls basketball team saw their
postseason come to an end in a 50-46 loss to Menlo Atherton in the
quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs Saturday night
at Mission College.
SANTA CLARA – Despite a strong third-quarter surge to cut an eight-point halftime deficit to three points heading into the fourth quarter, and a Sovi Nou 3-pointer to tie the contest with 1:30 left, the Gilroy High girls basketball team saw its postseason come to an end in a 50-46 loss to Menlo Atherton in the quarterfinals of the Central Coast Section playoffs Saturday night at Mission College.

A clutch trey by Menlo-Atherton forward Jessica Tuliau put her No. 10-seeded Bears up by four with 28 seconds left, leaving little time for the No. 2-seeded Lady Mustangs to mount another comeback.

“I thought we had the mindset to comeback and realize that it was time to shine,” Nou said of her game-tying 3-pointer. “I think we kind of underestimated them in a way. I think we were just more excited than focused.”

Tuliau finished with nine points, all from downtown, but none bigger than the dagger she hit when it mattered most.

The Lady Mustangs got off to a rough start shooting the ball, hitting just 9 of 36 from the floor in the first half. However, their press defense kept them in the game, trailing by only seven at the half.

“We didn’t play as well as we had been leading up to this point,” head coach Tim Jones said. “The lay off hurt us more than I think we expected.”

The Lady Mustangs stormed through the second half of Tri-County Athletic League play, running the table with seven straight victories heading into the postseason. However, Gilroy hadn’t taken the court in over a week after a 59-23 victory to close out the regular season.

Junior Chelsea Hill led the Lady Mustangs with 12 points, though her production was limited throughout the game. Nou finished with 10 points. Bears’ center Victoria Fakalata punished the Lady Mustangs inside, scoring a game-high 18 points.

Down 10 points midway through the third quarter and in desperate need of a spark, Dani Hemeon, Geralyn Moon and Lauren Rhodes, provided the lift the Mustangs needed.

The trio combined for seven of the Lady Mustangs’ final 13 points of the quarter, including Moon’s short jumper to tie things at 38-38 with 20 seconds remaining in the quarter.

With the help of two Lindsey Foster buckets and a Laura Steele rebound and score, the Lady Mustangs closed out the third on an 8-3 run, keeping the door wide open for the victory.

However, the Bears remained steadfast in protecting their lead, answering the call after Nou hit her big shot.

Gilroy ends the year with an 18-7 record.

“We did really well this season coming together as a team,” Nou said. “We just played basketball.”

The Bears move on to the semifinals to face No. 3 Evergreen Valley on Wednesday night.

TCAL teams, No. 5 San Benito and No. 1 North Salinas square off in the other semifinals matchup.

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