So coach, you say this was only Chris Enger’s second-best effort your eyes have seen?
“She played better against Mt. Carmel last year in the playoffs,” Vista coach Joe DeMaria said about his star center’s performance Tuesday night against visiting Canyon.
This of course, came after watching his Panthers defeat the visiting Comanches of Anaheim, 80-38, in the first round of the Division II Southern California Regional girls’ basketball playoffs. Enger scored 43 points.
Enger couldn’t precisely remember that Mt. Carmel game last year but memories of this one were still vivid.
“This is the best we’ve played in the playoffs so far,” said Enger, whose career high is 44.
“I thought we could win, but not like this. When you’re talking playoffs, everyone’s good. No way did I think that we’d blow them out like that.”
Aside from a close first quarter--Vista, after being down 8-3, took a 12-10 lead into the second quarter--Canyon (22-6) wasn’t even in the same gym as Vista.
Enger started off slow, with four points in the first quarter, then became a scoring machine for the next 16 minutes of play, scoring 20 and 15 points in the second and third quarters.
“We started getting the ball to her on the weak side,” said DeMaria. “That seemed to open it up and Kelli (Schott) got some shots for us.”
Said Enger: “Kelli and everyone got me the ball. Everyone always contributes.”
Top-seeded Vista (26-3) switched from a zone to man-to-man defense after the first quarter--"That seemed to help,” said DeMaria--and ran a fast break that broke Canyon fast.
“They didn’t defend against us a lot,” said Enger. “We just beat them up on the break. That really opened it up for us.”
Vista led, 35-22, at the half and pushed the margin wider with a 29-9 third-quarter run. In that period, Canyon’s only field goals were on three-pointers from Christa Ramirez--one with 3 seconds left--and one from Keri Erkenbrack, Canyon’s leading scorers.
Erkenbrack (21) and Ramirez (7) were questionable for the game, both having been injured after a CIF soccer game on Saturday.
News of the injuries filtered down to Vista’s players, and they weren’t taken seriously, according to Enger.
“They are their top scorers,” she said. “If they’re athletes, they’ll be out there.”
DeMaria began substituting late in the third quarter but didn’t take Enger out until she set the gym record with 3:10 remaining.
Scoring in double figures for Vista, which advances to Thursday’s second round, were Schott with 17 and Dana Christofferson with 11.
Canyon coach Bill Fitzgibbons said his players did a good job of defending against Enger early but had problems thereafter.
“They gave her the opportunity to stay in the key too long,” he said. “She does a great job of sliding through.”