By Aidan Fitzsimon
The St. Ignatius girls basketball team had its worst offensive game of the season in the final of the Leo LaRocca Sand Dune Classic on Thursday, but found a way to make up for its flaws with a standout defensive effort to outlast visiting Pinewood of Los Altos Hills 47-29.
The Wildcats (9-1) trailed the Panthers (9-4) 8-4 after the first quarter, but St. Ignatius bounced back to take a 19-15 lead at the half and never looked back.
“Pinewood did a really good job on us and got us out of sync offensively, especially in the first six minutes of the game, where we didn’t make very good decisions on offense,” said St. Ignatius head coach Mike Mulkerrins. “But as the game went on, we made much better decisions with the ball.”
The Wildcats shot just 37 percent from the field, but that hardly mattered with the defensive intensity they had. Pinewood, the defending Division V state champions, looked so lost at times, it hardly mattered whether the Wildcats dropped back into their zone or stuck to full-court pressure defense.
The Panthers were led by freshman point guard Marissa Hing, who tallied six points, but she was the only Pinewood player who could penetrate the SI defense. At 5 feet tall, she had to make tough shots all evening against the taller Wildcats.
“When you think about a 14-year-old girl playing in an environment like this, it’s tremendous,” said Pinewood coach Doc Schlepper.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats flexed their strength when they took advantage of the physically defeated Panthers.
St. Ignatius was led by seniors Kaitlyn Crawley and Maria Kemiji-McDonald, who had 13 and 9 points, respectively. Crawley was named to the All-Tournament team.
Kemiji-McDonald was also crucial on the boards for the Wildcats and was named the Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
“After losing as a sophomore [in the tournament final], it was really great for all the seniors out here [to] finally win it,” Kemiji-McDonald said.
Kailyn Crawley — 13
Maria Kemiji-McDonald — 9
Josie Little — 8
Three players tied with four points
Leanna Bade — 8
Jenny Hansen — 6
Marissa Hing — 6
Kelly Doran — 3
Danica Seto — 3