Girls Basketball: Convent holds off International in exciting finish

Convent head coach Jon Mercado and the Cubs celebrate after the final buzzer of their win against International on Saturday at International High School. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Josh Levine

After missing all 15 of its shots from the field in the first quarter, it appeared as if International High School would be blown out by visiting Convent on Saturday night.

Convent had a 15-2 lead after the first quarter, but the Jaguars came all the way back and sophomore Kassie Encinas hit a shot with 1:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to put the International up 48-47.

With only 13 seconds left, Convent’s Jaime Hum-Nishikado hit a running bank shot to take back the lead for good and the Cubs held on for a 49-48 non-league win.

Convent junior guard Bianka Quintanilla-Whye puts up a shot against International on Saturday at International High School. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“Tonight was very exciting and I’m happy we won,” said Convent head coach Jon Mercado. “Today we grew up a lot, because we were put in new situations . . . but we didn’t fall apart and we didn’t panic.”

The Jaguars (12-7) were plagued by dismal shooting in the first quarter, and Denia Ebersole and Shayna Mehta combined to miss 11 of those shots.

Ebersole got better as the game progressed, though, an finished with a game-high 25 points.

“We had a few breakdowns, but we came back after the first [quarter],” Ebersole said. “Shots weren’t falling, and we were too excited and hyped coming in to the game. We settled down at the end of the first and started playing our tempo the way we like it.”

The standout senior also took the final shot of the game, but thee Convent players converged and Ebersole’s last second attempt didn’t go down.

Ebersole’s older brother Chris is an assistant coach at Convent, giving the Cubs a game-planning advantage.

“Obviously, we know her strengths,” Mercado said. “I’ve known her a long time and Chris has obviously known her his whole life. We’re lucky she missed that last shot, and it seemed today like she willed the ball in the basket even though she started cold.”

The Cubs (12-6) built a 29-16 lead at the half with some hot shooting, hitting 13-of-19 shots from the field, including 3-of-5 from 3-point range. Hum-Nishikado hit all three of the 3s and had 11 first-half points.

“Today we really came out strong,” Hum-Nishikado said. “This is an important game for us and we kept our composure even when it got tough. We stuck with it and I knew we would pull through. On that last shot, I was a little scared, but I was very happy with the result.”

International head coach Charlene Murphy praised her team for the comeback, but noted that the Jaguars have been giving up early leads often this season.

“We came out overly excited in the first quarter for any number of reasons,” Murphy said. “There are a lot of friendships and relationships on the court, and the emotion we played with altered our shots and put us out of sync. We always seem to do that to ourselves, but in the second half we had our jitters out and started to play International basketball and we’re a hard team to beat.”

Scoring Leaders

Erin Hanley – 17
Jaime Hum-Nishikado – 13
Bianka Quintanilla-Whye – 10
Shannan Lum – 3
Three players tied with 2 points

Denia Ebersole – 25
Shayna Mehta – 11
Natalie Kelly – 5
Three players tied with 2 points

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