Reporting from Sacramento — They knew it was coming, the relentless full-court press from Stockton St. Mary’s, but the girls’ basketball players from Rialto had no idea how ferocious it would truly be.
“That’s the most we’ve ever seen,” Rialto’s Brittani Walker said of the all-out defensive pressure applied from start to finish Friday night in the state Division II championship game at Power Balance Pavilion.
St. Mary’s forced 33 turnovers and won its seventh state title with a 64-48 victory over Rialto (33-4).
“It’s a great trap,” Rialto Coach Michael Anderson said.
Rialto made 18 turnovers in the first half in falling behind, 32-27. The second half was worse. The inability to get off shots cost the Knights repeatedly even though they shot 56% from the field. St. Mary’s took 66 shots compared with Rialto’s 36.
Walker led her team with 17 points and nine rebounds. Denae Williams added 13 points and eight rebounds.
St. Mary’s (29-2) received 17 points from sophomore Courtney Range.
Rialto tried to look at the positives, having a breakthrough season to reach its first state final.
“I’m hoping what we did this year will open some eyes and doors in the Inland Empire,” Anderson said.
Los Altos Hills Pinewood, the most prolific three-point shooting team in state girls’ basketball history, did what it does best to win its second consecutive Division V championship with a 67-56 victory over Playa del Rey St. Bernard.
Pacific-bound Hailie Eackles scored 31 points and Miranda Seto had 21 points for Pinewood (28-5), which broke its own state record for most three-pointers in a season with 346. The Panthers made eight of 16 three-pointers Friday and never encountered difficulty against the taller Vikings (24-15), who got into foul trouble.
“I just have clutch girls,” Pinewood Coach Doc Scheppler said.
Lajahna Drummer had 16 points and Kacy Swain 13 for St. Bernard, which started three freshmen.
“Good players rise to the occasion, and she rose high today,” St. Bernard Coach Bo Corona said of Eackles.