By Josh Levine
With a 63-48 win over Head-Royce of Oakland on Wednesday, International High School’s girls basketball team did something the program has never accomplished – advance past the first round of the North Coast Section playoffs.
The sixth-seeded Jaguars (19-9) defeated a short-handed Head-Royce squad in the first round of the NCS Division V playoffs, but the Jayhawks (18-11) were missing three players, including two starters.
One player was out with a concussion and two players were on scheduled vacations, as both schools are not in session this week for February recess.
“With two starters out, it changed our whole complexion,” said Head-Royce head coach Ray Wilson. “On defense, we like to pressure from baseline to baseline, but we couldn’t do that tonight. In the fourth quarter especially, fatigue seemed to set in, since we only had six girls dressed. It’s tough to win against any team with six players.”
Both teams traded the lead in the first quarter, before the Bay Counties League Central champions went on a 11-0 run in the second to open up the game to take a 26-16 lead.
The Jayhawks clawed their way back, riding a 16-point third quarter by Sierra Ng, who spurred a 14-0 run that erased a a 36-23 International lead. Ng finished with a game-high 25 points, with 18 coming in the second half.
Guards Shayna Mehta and Denia Ebersole led the International offense, finishing with 24 and 18 points, respectively. Ebersole was held to three first-half points, but erupted for 15 in the second half on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
“In the second half, we really composed ourselves,” Ebersole said. “We had a lot of emotion coming in and we’re a really young team, but we settled down and ran our game out there. It’s one game at a time for us.”
Mehta, a freshman, picked up the slack for the Jaguars in the first half, with 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the floor.
“I’ve been coaching Shayna since she was in sixth grade,” said International head coach Charlene Murphy. “She’s one of the top five guards in San Francisco, hands down, and we’re very lucky to have her. She’s a diamond in the rough [and] the most underrated player out there.”
International will hit the road in the second round on Saturday to face third-seeded St. Vincent de Paul of Petaluma, the same team that knocked the Jaguars out of the section tournament last season.
“We lost to them in a nailbiter last year, but we match up really well with them,” Murphy said. “They have a lot of good guards, which we have as well.”
Shayna Mehta – 24
Denia Ebersole – 18
Natalie Kelly – 13
Amelia Emilia Omberg – 6
Cienna Gray – 2
Sierra Ng – 25
Aminah Luqman – 12
Rebecca Benham – 8
Kelly Cook – 2
Cai Johnson – 1