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Christian Fails in Title Shot

TIMES STAFF WRITER

For three consecutive years, Kate Paye of Atherton Menlo has been one of the state’s top players and Friday she showed why, scoring 21 points in the Knights’ 65-48 victory over El Cajon Christian for the State Division V title at the Oakland Coliseum Arena.

Paye, a 5-foot-7 senior, also had 10 assists, eight steals and six rebounds to lead Menlo to its third consecutive state title. Menlo, 29-7, never trailed after scoring the game’s first 12 points.

“They started out the game in a zone trap, which is something we haven’t played against all season” Christian guard Tiffany Stutz said. “That gave us problems along with the two great players they had.”

Stutz was referring to Paye, the State Division V player of the year the past two seasons, and Menlo’s Laurie Stucker, who had a team-high 24 points and 15 rebounds.

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Christian, 24-5, was led by Stacey Patsko, who scored 13 points and grabbed nine rebounds. Jenny Culbertson and Stutz each added 11 points.

“Their fast break was really good,” Patsko said. “We hustled the best we could, but we couldn’t keep up with them.”

Paye paced Menlo’s fast start, scoring 10 points with making an assist as the Knights opened a 12-0 lead before Patsko scored for Christian with 5:58 remaining in the first quarter.

Christian finally got untracked in the second quarter, but Paye, who scored 18 points in the first half, started to have success inside with Stucker, a 6-1 senior center, scoring nine points as Menlo took a 35-18 halftime lead.

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“We wanted to jump on them in the beginning,” Menlo Coach John Paye said, who also is Kate Paye’s brother. “We didn’t want them to get going and Stucker really had a good game.”

In the second half, Christian did a better job with Menlo’s defense but could not stop Stucker, who scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds in the second half.

Stutz, who led Christian in scoring this season with a 23.3 points per game average, limped noticeably throughout the game because of a sore ankle she reinjured in the Patriots’ 62-51 victory over Mission Prep in last week’s Southern Regional final.

“I was planning on playing all week, but I did not know that my ankle would flare up like this,” Stutz said, who scored nine points in the third quarter to lead the Patriots, who tied Menlo in second half points, 30-30. “If this was a regular season game, I wouldn’t have played.”

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Patsko said that Stutz’s injury was a problem.

“It hurt us because she has been a key player all year,” Patsko said. “But, we are not an one-person team. They just played better than us.”

Menlo made 43% of its field goal attempts; Christian made only 35.8%. The Patriots also were outrebounded, 37-27.

“Going into the game, I was worried about our rebounding,” said Menlo Coach Paye, who is a former Stanford and San Francisco 49ers quarterback. “In the playoffs, (Christian) did a good job on teams inside.”

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For Christian, it will have to wait until next season to win its first State title.


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