Sara Makanani converted 1-of-2 free throws with 5.6 seconds remaining in the game, and after one final defensive stand, North Salinas defeated Gilroy High 40-39 in a gritty Tri-County Athletic League tilt Tuesday in Gilroy.
It wasn’t the most aesthetically pleasing at times, but what it lacked in fluidity it made up for in excitement. Neither team cared for the ball much, and each cashed in on the others’ mistakes, but the Vikings (9-5 overall, 2-0 TCAL) created two big turnovers in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to gain the upper hand in the end.
The Vikings shot 34 percent, while the Mustangs (7-7 overall, 1-2 TCAL) managed a 36-percent clip.
North Salinas head coach Darren Jackson was happy to get out of Gilroy with the victory.
“That was a big one for us,” he said.
The Mustangs welcomed back senior Michelle Sosa, a returning all-leaguer, who decided to hold off on surgery to repair a torn right anterior cruciate ligament. Sosa entered at the five minute mark of the first quarter and contributed early, scoring two points, grabbing a rebound and dishing an assist 30 seconds into her first floor shift since early December.
“I felt confident,” said Sosa, who was wearing a specially designed knee brace. “There were a few little tweaks, but I just have to walk those off.”
Gilroy’s other leading scorer, Kaylana Mah, is expected back from her knee injury in about two weeks, she said.
North Salinas grabbed an 11-6 advantage through the first quarter. Both teams traded runs in the second. Gilroy kicked off the quarter on an 8-0 spree. The Vikings countered with a 6-0 sprint. Tanaya Macias banked home a 3-pointer from an off-angle at the buzzer to lift North Salinas to a 22-17 edge at the half.
“I challenged the girls at halftime and they made a commitment to playing defense,” GHS head coach Kort Jensen said. “They bought into the challenge, we set a goal that was measurable and attainable.”
Gilroy’s goal was to ratchet up the defense. The Mustangs held the Vikings to just seven points in the third.
The Mustangs trailed 29-27 entering the fourth quarter, but an Athena Alarcon running layup – the closing sequence of a play created by a Kayla Guardino steal – on their first possession quickly tied matters. The Mustangs continued with their half-court press and turned another giveaway into a Brianna Barron layup at the other end for a 31-29 lead.
The back and forth continued – the fourth quarter featured four lead changes and four ties – as a pair of Macias free throws knotted things at 32-32 with 3:46 to play. Buckets by Alarcon and Holly Lam made it 36-33 before North Salinas’ Kayla Harper made two free throws to cut into the deficit. Harper delivered a mid-range jumper on the Vikings’ next trip down the floor for a one-point advantage with 1:25 showing on the clock. The hectic feverish pace continued and after another Alarcon layup and Harper free throw left it 39-39, the stage was set for Makanani’s steal and subsequent trip to the foul line.
“That was just a great high school basketball game,” Jensen said.
Alarcon led all scorers with 12 points, Ashlee Williams, who fouled out with 2:30 to play, provided 10 points for the Mustangs, and Barron had six. Harper led the Vikings with 10 points, Macias had nine Darjhian Tennant had eight and Makanani finished with seven.
• Senior Dillon Babb collected 20 points and sophomore Evan Shapiro netted a season-high 16 points, but those efforts weren’t enough in a Christopher High boys basketball team 74-61 loss to Seaside on Tuesday night.
The Spartans (9-4 overall, 1-1 Monterey Bay Athletic League) were led by 29 points from Kyle Heib, one of three guards to give the visiting Cougars a difficult time on the perimeter.
“We did reasonably well inside. It’s not like we didn’t have any offensive production,” CHS head coach Kaden Bahner said. “But we couldn’t stop them. (Heib) was lighting it up. It was just his night.”
Andrew Foster added eight points and freshman Dillon Day contributed 10 points for the Cougars, who drop to 4-10 overall and 0-2 in MBL play.
“All in all, I thought we did some really good things, but we had too many turnovers,” Bahner said. “They ran full-court trap against us and we just didn’t handle it very well. I saw a group of guys give maximum effort. We just have to execute better.”
CHS hosts Pajaro Valley (3-10, 0-3 MBL) on Thursday at 7 p.m.
“That’s one we need to make sure we play mistake free and fire on all cylinders,” Bahner said.
• The Christopher High girls varsity soccer team improved to 2-0 in the Monterey Bay League after an impressive 4-1 victory over Monte Vista Christian on Tuesday in Watsonville.
The Cougars (5-4 overall) tallied twice in each half and led 2-1 at halftime.
Emma Morley scored two goals, while Jasmine Contreras and Paulina Llamas each had one. CHS resumes league play Thursday at home against Monterey. Game time is slated for 3:30 p.m.
• Anchorpoint Christian boys basketball evened its Coastal Athletic League record at 1-1 with a 35-31 victory over visiting Anzar High on Tuesday.
The Warriors are back at home (South Valley Middle School) on Thursday night against Pacific Collegiate. Game time is 7 p.m.
• A scheduling faux pa caused the cancellation of the Christopher High girls basketball team’s game against Pajaro Valley on Tuesday. The two teams have agreed to reschedule the contest for Thursday night at CHS in the auxiliary gym.