Fast start, but Pinewood girls fall in CCS Open Division final


The Pinewood and Mitty girls put on an incredible display of offensive basketball in the first half of the Central Coast Section Open Division title game.

Unfortunately for the Panthers, only the Monarchs were able to sustain it for the second half.

Top-seeded Mitty (23-3) used its size and depth advantage to post a 79-60 win over No. 2 Pinewood (22-5) on Friday night at Santa Clara University.

The Panthers put up 27 points in the first quarter, but trailed 43-41 at halftime.

"That was a great show," Pinewood coach Doc Schlepper said. "Very rarely in a big game do you find teams playing that well. I guarantee you, you watch the Division 1, 2, 3, and 4 games tomorrow, you'll go, 'I'd rather watch Pinewood-Mitty every day of the week.' I bet our halftime score will be more than a lot of those final scores. Because kids (usually) get nervous in a big game. I couldn't be prouder of our girls."

All six players for Pinewood played at least 25 minutes and scored between nine and 13 points, led by freshman Klara Astrom's 13 points (on 5-of-7 shooting), five rebounds and two steals.

But while the tallest Panther was 5-foot-10, Mitty features eight six-footers and a nine-player rotation. The Monarchs outscored Pinewood 36-19 in the second half, shot 54 percent in the game and outrebounded the Panthers 40-21.

"Mitty throws a lot of different things at you and we answered it early," Schlepper said. "It was probably one of the best first halves that either team has played offensively, and then fatigue started to settle in, to where you're tired and you don't make the best decisions."

Going for its first CCS Open Division championship, Pinewood stormed out of the gate, making eight of its first nine shots and taking a 22-9 lead after five minutes.

"It was just amazing," Panthers guard Akayla Hackson said. "I love how it felt. We all just fed off each other's energy. It was great."

But it wasn't sustainable. After starting 8 of 9, Pinewood made just 12 of its final 43 attempts as Mitty started double-teaming and switching more on defense. Mitty took its first lead at 41-39 with a minute left in the second quarter and never trailed again.

"You expect that they're going to put some numbers up," Monarchs coach Sue Phillips said. "We had to make some adjustments defensively, which I thought the kids did a great job doing on the fly."

Heleyna Hill had 25 points on 9-of-10 shooting and Karisma Ortiz had 15 assists -– more than everyone else on both teams combined -– to lead the Monarchs.

The Panthers were held to seven points in the third quarter as Mitty went ahead by double digits, and the Monarchs led by as many as 22 late in the fourth quarter as Pinewood lost in the Open Division title game for the second straight season.

Mitty's size was a major factor. The Monarchs had 11 offensive rebounds and did a good job deflecting passes, closing out on shooters and bothering drivers on the other end.

"The game of basketball at this level, in this environment, for this gender, is very stressful mentally," Schlepper said. "And it's all about easy baskets. Now how many easy baskets does Mitty get as compared to us? We have to manufacture them with drives and finishes at the rim. They get it into their tall girl and have her go to work, or the offensive glass."

Pinewood will now await its CIF NorCal playoff destination, which will be determined Sunday. The Panthers hope to get one of the top four seeds, which would mean a first-round home game.

"We're the fourth-best team around when you look at it," Schlepper said. "I'd hope the committee treats us with a little bit of, 'They're really good.' We deserve to be there. (This) was a great game."

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