By Jeremy Balan
Convent of the Sacred Heart High School’s girls basketball team hasn’t exactly showed the ability to score in bunches in its first six games, but the Cubs’ offense found a rhythm on Thursday.
Convent shot just over 54 percent from the floor and had three players score in double figures in a 72-57 win over Berean Christian of Walnut Creek to tip off the Urban Shootout tournament at Kezar Pavilion.
The Cubs (3-4) melded the sharp outside shooting of sophomore guard Jaime Hum-Nishikado and the inside game of freshman forward Erin Hanley, and led after every quarter.
Hum-Nishikado started the game on fire, connecting on her first three shots from the floor, and had 11 first-quarter points. She started fast, but was a consistent outside shooting threat throughout, hitting at least one 3-pointer in each quarter and going 5-of-9 for the game to total a game-high 22 points.
“Anytime you shoot well to start the game off, you feel good, but the whole team responds,” said first-year Convent head coach Jon Mercado. “Every time she hit a jump shot, she energized the team.”
With Hum-Nishikado knocking down outside shots, Hanley capitalized on the extended Berean defense and scored 19 points almost entirely in the paint, and rounded out her double-double with a game-high 12 rebounds.
“Having a girl like Erin really helps everyone else out,” Mercado said. “A lot of teams pay so much attention to her, everyone else gets easy looks.”
Berean visibly outsized the Convent frontcourt, but didn’t attack that advantage until the fourth quarter, when senior forward Jessica Vestal scored 14 of her team-high 20 points.
The Eagles (3-4) cut the Convent lead to 54-45 early in the fourth quarter on three consecutive baskets from Vestal, but another Hum-Nishikado 3-pointer on the ensuing possession again extended the Cubs’ lead to double digits.
“We played even with them in the second half, and that shows we can play with them, but we just didn’t get off to a good start,” said Berean head coach John Brewster. “In the second half, [Vestal] was fired up and went stronger to the basket.”
The Cubs forced 14 Berean turnovers in the first half, which fueled a potent Convent fast-break offense.
Hanley and junior guard Bianka Quintanilla-Whye were the main benefactors, scoring a combined 18 points in the second quarter alone, on 9-of-11 shooting.
“We want to be very opportunistic, but be smarter when we run,” Mercado said. “We had those opportunities to score easy baskets today and we’ll take it.”
The Cubs advance to face the winner of the Athenian-Branson first-round game in the tournament semifinals on Friday, but what may be most exciting about the two-time defending Bay Counties League West champions is the abundance of talented youth.
Convent only has one senior on its roster and every point scored against Berean came from underclassmen.
Jamie Hum-Nishikado — 22
Erin Hanley – 19
Bianka Quintanilla-Whye — 12
Isabella Borges — 7
Gina Domergue — 6
Jessica Vestal — 20
Rona Chavez — 16
Madi West — 13
Courtney Louie — 4
Katrice Mitchell — 4