Sports

Pinewood girls roll to a sixth state championship in basketball

The Pinewood girls rolled to a 26-point halftime lead and coasted to a 60-42 basketball victory over La Jolla Country Day in the title game of the CIF Division V State Championships on Friday at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento.

The Panthers (30-3) earned their sixth state title, all at Division V, while handing the Torreys (20-12) their fourth-worst loss of the season. The crown came on the 15th anniversary of Pinewood's first state title in 1999.

"Somebody put a coat hanger in my mouth cause I'm gonna be smiling all day long," said an obviously pleased Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler. "(The) goal is always to be the best you can . . . I couldn't be happier . . . it doesn't get old."

La Jolla Country Club came into the game having not given up more than 35 points in any game this season. Pinewood surpassed that by halftime, setting the tone for the lopsided game that made the school the winningest Division V team in state history.

The Torreys were pressured into 18 turnovers in the first half, during which the Panthers led by as many as 26 points. A 15-0 run in the second quarter gave Pinewood a 32-9 lead. Sisters Gabi and Leeana Bade combined for three 3-pointers during that run with Gabi tallying eight points, including back-to-back treys.

Pinewood pushed its lead to 30 points on three occasions in the third quarter as it spread the court and took the ball to the basket more often than not as La Jolla had no answer defensively.

"There's not a whole lot of teams that can play with us if they go man," said junior point guard Marissa Hing.

Somewhat surprisingly, Pinewood made only four 3-pointers in the game -- four of nine in the first half -- tying its lowest production of the season. The Panthers came into the game as the No. 2 girls' team in the state with 289 treys made, but didn't need to go to its 3-point game as La Jolla allowed easy penetration with a perimeter defense that focused on stopping Pinewood's 3-point shooting.

"I couldn't be more happy for our girls," said Scheppler. "We work really hard in practice. It's a great testament to our work ethic."

Hing led Pinewood with 17 points. She made 13 of 16 from the free-throw line, equalling the No. 2 mark in state playoff history for free throws made. The Bade sisters evenly split 26 points, with Leeana grabbing eight rebound, and sophomore Chloe Eackles tallied 10 points. Freshman Akayla Hackson contributed seven points in her first state finale.

La Jolla's standout sophomore Mai-loni Henson, who came in averaging 15.2 points a game, had no field goals in the first half while scoring just three points. She finished with 12 plus a game-high 16 rebounds. Sophomore Mariana Ecija led the Torreys with 18 points.

La Jolla turned the ball over 26 times to just 11 for Pinewood, which more than made up for last year's loss in the state title game. The Panthers now have won six times in eight appearances in the state finals. Their 6-2 record ranks No. 3 all-time in girls' state history, trailing only Brea Olinda (9-2) and St. Mary's-Stockton (7-2).

Pinewood will return four starters next season, losing only Leeana Bade out of that group. Also graduating are reserves Kendahl Wallis-Lang and Shani Rosenthal.

So, what's next for Pinewood?

"I want their goals to be high," Scheppler said. "Maybe we'll play in the Open Division next year. I think we're good enough."

— Keith Peters/Palo Alto Online Sports

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