Section Championship Wrapup: Lowell wins AAA title, Mercy falls in CCS D-IV final
The Lowell High School girls basketball team won its third-consecutive Academic Athletic Association championship with a 47-35 victory over rival Washington on Friday at Kezar Pavilion.
Lowell junior guard Katarina Lum had a game-high 14 points and Kelly Wong and Taylor Sui added nine points apiece off the bench.
After only leading 22-19 at the half, the Cardinals (25-4) outscored the Eagles 16-6 in the third frame to take control of the game.
“We always set goals before the game and tonight I challenged the team to keep Washington under 40 points,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada. “Tonight, the girls played great defense, because that’s a real good Washington team over there.”
A 3-pointer from Lum with 6:20 left in the game was the clincher for the Cardinals, giving Lowell a 41-29 advantage.
“She’s just another one of the long line of sisters that have come through and played for Lowell,” Kuwada said. “The great thing is she’s back next year.”
Washington (14-15) got a team-high 13 points from senior guard Raelyn Cheung-Sutton, but struggled with turnovers and committed 19 in the game.
“We told the team at halftime that Lowell would make a run and they did,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “We played hard, but we didn’t play smart. To beat a team like [Lowell], you have to be smart.”
– Bonta Hill
Girls Basketball: Soquel 63, Mercy 58
Mercy head coach Michael Gutierrez may have described the Skippers’ performance in their loss to Soquel in the Central Coast Section Division IV championship game best.
“We didn’t play Mercy basketball,” Gutierrez said.
So many of the attributes the top-seeded Skippers (26-3) showcased all season long were absent against the second-seeded Knights (25-4) on Friday at Santa Clara University.
The sharp-shooting Mercy guards shot 2-of-12 from 3-point range, standout senior guard Mariah Masoli had an extended cold streak in the first three quarters of the game and forwards Courtney Sabahi and Nia Ilalio, who regularly take in double-digit rebounds, individually took in 10 combined.
“We won the [West Bay Athletic League] championship, one of the toughest leagues in the Bay Area, and had 26 wins, because we played Mercy basketball,” Gutierrez said. “We didn’t do that today until the last quarter.”
The Skippers trailed 47-33 heading into the fourth quarter, but got a combined 20 points from Masoli and junior guard Christina Haight in the final frame, which, combined with nine Soquel turnovers, allowed Mercy to cut the lead to 55-53 with 1:45 remaining.
But Soquel’s Tyler Stewert hit a back-breaking 3-pointer on the next possession and the Skippers never came within a single score again.
“Tyler’s 3 there to get us our momentum back was huge,” said Soquel head coach John Wilson. “The girls stepped up when we needed someone to step up and that’s what we’ve done all year.”
As a CCS finalist, Mercy will advance to the CIF State Championship tournament next week, but will have to wait another year to try for its first section title since 1988.
“Everybody had a responsibility,” Gutierrez said. “Everybody made mistakes out there, including me, and every single one of those mistakes, when you add them up, is why we lost.”
– Jeremy Balan
Editor’s note: The Mercy score listed conflicts with the Central Coast Section’s official score, which credited Mercy with 59 points. The official scorer incorrectly awarded a missed free throw to Mercy in the first quarter.