By Matthew Snyder
After a nine-day break, the St. Ignatius girls basketball team looked sluggish to start Monday night’s non-league home game against Clayton Valley of Concord.
Nursing an 11-8 lead after the first quarter, the Wildcats ratcheted up their defensive intensity and blitzed the Eagles on the way to a comfortable 72-38 victory.
“I was more worried about getting off to a quick start and we didn’t,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michael Mulkerrins. “That can come with a week layoff, but we had a really tough tournament up at Marin Catholic, especially in the final. Every week, you get a bit better and you learn how to mentally prepare for those breaks.”
The Eagles (3-4) found success early shifting between different types of zone defenses, a ploy to force the Wildcats (3-1) into difficult perimeter shots, according to Clayton Valley head coach Bernard Barnes.
“With a team like that, we know they like to shoot the three, so let’s throw a zone at them and invite them to shoot them,” Barnes said. “We just didn’t know they were going to hit 26-footers.”
St. Ignatius sophomore forwards Sydney Raggio (eight points, seven rebounds) and Brianna Beckman (six points, six rebounds) were instrumental in helping the Wildcats break down the Clayton Valley zone defense.
The two forwards combined for seven assists, frequently cutting to the free throw line during the second and third quarters to pick out shooters for open looks on the wing and in the corner.
“We got a lot of open looks because we got the ball to the free throw line and then we hit open shooters,” Mulkerrins said. “That was the plan going in and we didn’t execute that plan at the very beginning, but as the game went on we got better at it.”
Sophomore reserve guard Addi Walters combined with starters Raggio and Crystal Sun to help ignite a second-quarter run that broke the game open. The three players accounted for 15 points during a 17-5 run that pushed the Wildcats’ advantage to 28-13. St. Ignatius extended the lead even more by outscoring the Eagles 25-7 in the third quarter.
Sun finished with a game-high 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.
The Wildcats also limited Clayton Valley’s leading scorer Ashley Allen, who was primarily guarded by Beckman and junior Quinci Mann, to 12 points on 5-of-12 shooting. The senior forward entered the game averaging 16.7 points through six games.
Crystal Sun – 16
Addi Walters – 13
Quinci Mann – 10
Tyler Brown – 9
Sydney Raggio – 8
Ashley Allen – 12
Hailey Pascoe – 11
Kayla Taylor – 8
Taryn Pascal – 7