By Josh Levine
University High School held off a late run by visiting Castilleja of Palo Alto to secure its third consecutive victory of the season with a 57-53 non-league win on Wednesday.
The Gators (3-2) got 26 points from standout senior guard Riya Modi, but no other Castilleja player scored in double digits.
“She was their whole offense,” said University head coach Jason Montana. “In the second half, we found a weakness and kept her in check. She’s a great player [and] it’s not like she won’t score. Our girls haven’t seen a player of that caliber, especially so far this year. This was new to them and they handled it well.”
Modi scored 16 first-half points, but solid guard play from the Red Devils kept her in check in the second half.
“Honestly, the halftime [break] helped cool her down,” said Castilleja head coach Jez McIntosh. “They focused on her primarily in the second half and we didn’t do well. We ran different [plays], but the result was the same.”
University senior center Amelia King and freshman guard Katie Lo combined to score 35 points, including 23 of the Red Devils’ 33 second-half points.
“Coming up to San Francisco, the teams up here are always more physical and we didn’t match their intensity in the first half,” McIntosh said. “We let Amelia get the ball down low and be comfortable. She didn’t have to work to get the ball. We don’t have a full roster right now with some girls out, but that’s not an excuse. We stood behind her and she beat us.”
Sophomore guard Kayla Symanovich had just four points, but rebounded well and caused several Castilleja turnovers. Symanovich, along with guards Kaiza Molina and Gabby Chua, also shared the responsibility of locking down Modi in the second half.
“Kayla led them on hustle plays and killed us on rebounds,” McIntosh said. “You won’t see her numbers as much on the stat line, but she caused us to fall behind and we were fighting to come back the entire time.”
Montana and the Red Devils (3-1) are still looking to play consistently to avoid the peaks and valleys they have experienced early in the season.
“We had some good and bad streaks,” Montana said. “We kept our composure well down the stretch, but we did let them back in the game late. We still have some work to do but this is a young group and we will learn from this.”
Katie Lo — 18
Amelia King — 17
Gabby Chua — 7
Kaiza Molina — 4
Kayla Symanovich — 4
Riya Modi — 26
Olivia Nicholls — 8
Lauren Rantz — 6
Madelyn Tarr — 6
Alina Brown — 3