By Mitch Stephens
With his team down nine points at halftime, St. Ignatius head coach Mike Mulkerinns was resigned to the fact his Wildcats were in over their heads.
Anyone watching the trees of host Bishop O’Dowd could see that.
With a front-line of 6-foot-3, 6-3 and 6-1, the Dragons dwarfed St. Ignatius, which doesn’t have a player taller than 5-10 on its roster.
“It was pretty startling,” Mulkerinns said. “But somehow that just made my girls all the more determined.”
The visiting Wildcats cut the lead to two in the third quarter, but simply couldn’t get over the hump, losing 48-39 in the CIF Northern California Division III semifinals
Alex Legarza, a 5-10 senior, epitomized St. Ignatius’ tenacity with a game-high 15 rebounds to go along with eight points.
Maria Kemiji-McDonald, a 5-10 junior, had a team-high 15 points and Kaitlyn Crawley, Raquel Avila and Courtney Gong combined for the team’s other 16 points.
The Wildcats (24-8) tied their second lowest point total of the year, and considering they were trying to shoot over such long and athletic bodies, it was no wonder.
Oderah Chidom, a 6-3 sophomore, led top-seed O’Dowd (24-7) with 19 points while 5-2 sophomore point guard Ariell Bostick added 14.
“We played real hard and really well,” Mulkerinns said. “I mean honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of the girls. They completely laid it on the line. We just couldn’t make shots when we needed to. It was pretty much simple as that.”
The most crucial shot was just after the Wildcats had cut the lead to two. St. Ignatius had a chance to tie, but a missed layup seemed to swing things back O’Dowd’s way.
“All I can say is that we were relentless,” Mulkerrins said. “But give O’Dowd credit because they were pretty relentless too.”
O’Dowd’s Kendall Waters, a third sophomore at 6-1, didn’t score much (six points), but she had 10 rebounds and six assists.
St. Ignatius didn’t win West Catholic Athletic League or Central Coast Section titles, but Mulkerrins said it felt like a championship season.
“Just the all-out effort these girls showed each practice, each game was worth more to me than any trophy,” he said.
Maria Kemiji-McDonald – 15
Alex Legarza – 8
Raquel Avila – 6
Kaitlyn Crawley – 6
Courtney Gong – 4
Oderah Chidom – 19
Ariell Bostick – 14
Kendall Waters – 6
Lariel Powell – 5
Alexandria White – 2