Gunn girls, Mid-Peninsula boys fall in their openers


The Gunn girls and Mid-Peninsula boys saw their respective seasons end on Tuesday night, but there's still lots of basketball to be played in the CIF Northern California playoffs.

While No. 7 Gunn (19-7) is gone in Division I following a 50-49 loss to No. 10 Armijo of Fairfield (25-6), No. 4 Palo Alto (22-4) will host its first-ever NorCal game on Thursday (7 p.m.) against No. 5 Lincoln of Stockton (26-4), a 46-36 first-round winner over No. 12 Castlemont.

And while No. 8 Mid-Peninsula (21-4) is gone in Division V following a 54-46 loss to No. 9 Ripon Christian (25-6), No. 2 Pinewood (22-5) will be host to No 7 Bradshaw Christian of Sacramento (22-8) on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

The top-seeded Pinewood girls (24-5), meanwhile, will open their NorCal title defense on Thursday in the first game (6 p.m.) of a doubleheader in Los Altos Hills against No. 8 Rincon Valley Christian of Santa Rosa (30-3), a 56-45 first-round winner over No. 9 Turlock Christian (21-10).

Also in Division V, the No. 2-seeded Eastside Prep girls (21-8) will host a second-round game against No. 10 Vacaville Christian (21-9), a 57-50 first-round winner over No. 7 Portola (15-5) on Tuesday night.

The Sacred Heart Prep boys (24-5), meanwhile, will put their No. 3 seed on the line Thursday night (7 p.m.) against No. 11 St. Patrick/St. Vincent of Vallejo (25-8), a 58-50 first-round winner over No. 6 Amador of Sutter Creek. St. Patrick/St. Vincent ended SHP's season in the second round last season, 64-47.

The Gunn girls were hoping to advance in the NorCal playoffs for only the second time in school history -- the first was in 2009 -- and appeared in good shape to do so after getting out to a 17-6 lead in the first quarter. The Titans, however, trailed by 46-36 with five minutes remaining in the game before rallying.

Gunn went on a 13-2 run to re-take the lead when sophomore Claire Klausner made a layup with 1:30 left in the game. The Titans, however, couldn't hold on and ended up losing when Armijo's Marshanique Hall made two free throws with 21 seconds left to put the Indians up 50-49 for the final score.

Gunn pretty much controlled its destiny, but turned the ball over twice in the final minute, the first coming with 40 seconds left while holding a one point lead. The second came with five seconds to go when the Titans were trying for the winning basket.

"That was tough to lose," said Gunn coach Sarah Stapp. "But, I'm proud of the way we battled back. We could have caved in after Armijo got the momentum and had a double digit lead."

The double digit lead came when Armijo went on a 14-0 run to take a 41-34 lead early in the fourth that they eventually stretched to 46-36 before Gunn made their final run.

Early on it looked like it would be a great night for the Titans. After Armijo scored the first basket of the game, Gunn's Zoe Zwerling scored seven straight points as Gunn went on a 10-0 run to take a 10-2 lead. Later in the first, Julia Maggioncalda scored what was first ruled a three pointer, but then was changed to a two pointer, as Gunn enjoyed its biggest lead of the night at 17-6.

Armijo trimmed its deficit to 27-25 by the half. The third period started out strong for Gunn with five straight points, but then Armijo went on a 14-0 run to set the stage for the wild finish.

Trailing 46-36 it didn't look promising, especially given the fact that Maggioncalda had just fouled out. But Gunn received outstanding defensive paly from Klausner, Cat Perez, Nora Shevick, Hannah Riley and Emily Redfield as they pressed Armijo into numerous turnovers. The Titans got key baskets by Klausner, Perez and Shevick and when Klausner made the layup and Gunn got the ball back with a minute left and the lead, it looked like the miracle comeback was complete.

Unfortunately for Gunn, it twice tried to get the ball into Perez, who finished with 15 points, only to have it stolen away. Klausner added 14 points for Gunn, which will return everyone next season.

"It's always tough for the season to end," said Stapp. "But we have a lot to be proud of and a lot to look forward to. With everybody coming back, and people coming back from injuries, we should be deeper and stronger and have another great year."

Mid-Peninsula coach Curtis Haggins had similar feelings, but he won't have everyone returning like Stapp. In fact, the Dragons lose all but two players.

"I never know what's going to happen the next year," Haggins said. "I'll figure something out."

In the meantime, Haggins and assistant Bruce Powell will enjoy what their team accomplished this season -- reaching a Central Coast Section championship game and advancing to NorCals for the first time in school history.

While the Dragons were listed as the home team, the game was played at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco. Nonetheless, a large group of Mid-Peninsula fans made the trip.

"We probably had 100 people there and we only have something like 138 in the school," Haggins said. "We had a Dragon mascot there . . . this was bigger than basketball."

While Mid-Peninsula came in with an explosive offense that featured senior Lydell Cardwell, who was averaging 24.7 points a game, nothing worked for the Dragons.

"We had a game that we couldn't afford to have at this time of year," Haggins said. "The effort wasn't there. I'm disappointed, but I'm not upset."

Cardwell, who scored 66 points in his final two CCS games, had only two points in the first half as Mid-Peninsula fell behind by 27-18. The Dragons did get to within 35-34 in the second half before Ripon Christian pulled away.

Haggins said Cardwell had arguably his worst game in six years, going back to middle school.

"It was a humbling experience, that he ended his high school career not the way he wanted to," Haggins said.

Mid-Peninsula's other top scorers -- Anthony Briggs (9.1 ppg), Reggie Williams (14.7 ppg) and Nick Seyer (11.2 ppg) -- also had off nights.

"We needed these guys to get easy baskets," Haggins said, "and for Lydell to be Lydell."

-- Keith Peters/Tom Jacoubowsky reporting on Gunn

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