By John Baker
In the Sand Dune Classic girls basketball tournament championship, Lowell and St. Ignatius both held leads for long stretches, but the Wildcats rallied behind a game-high 23 points from Quinci Mann – 10 of them coming in the fourth quarter – to beat the Cardinals 52-48 on Saturday.
“We have a very strong team chemistry, but we’re also very young, so sometimes it takes us awhile to get into our motions,” Mann said. “I feel like that second half, we really turned it on.”
Mann made two three-pointers and hit some key free throws to help the Wildcats (9-1) take the lead in the third quarter and hold it in the fourth.
“Quinci just hit some huge, huge shots,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michael Mulkerrins. “If we needed a shot, she would hit it.”
St. Ignatius used mass substitutions in an effort to overcome a third-quarter deficit and wear down a Lowell (10-4) team with less depth. By the end of the game the Cardinals were running on fumes, even as the Wildcats slowed their offense to eat up the clock.
“They rotated a lot more than we did,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada. “Our girls just ran out of gas those last five minutes. There was nothing I could do.”
Lowell was also short-handed. Starting guard Angie Ng, who played a key role in the Cardinals’ semifinal win over Pinewood, was out of town on a family trip, but made the all-tournament team regardless based on her play in previous games.
“For what we had, the kids played really well,” Kuwada said. “We really stepped up on defense.”
The Wildcats took an 18-12 lead after a quarter, but Lowell asserted itself in the second, buoyed by good ball movement and good shooting. The Cardinals tied the game at 24-24 with 45 seconds left in the first half on a Taylor Sui layup, then took the lead moments later after a jumper by Katarina Lum.
After leading most of the third quarter, Lowell finally gave up the lead for good after a bucket by Mann with 2:47 left in the third. The knockout blows then came with a three-pointer from Mann with 1:50 left that made the score 50-44 and a blocked shot by tournament MVP Sydney Raggio in the final moments.
“You have to give Lowell a lot of credit, their defense gave us some problems early on,” Mulkerrins said. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We were able to get the ball to the right people in the right areas and were able to score some baskets that way.”
As could be expected, the all-tournament team was dominated by players from the two squads. Besides Raggio and Ng, also making the all-tourney team were Lowell’s Kelly Wong and Lorna Tuufuli and St. Ignatius’ Mann, Crystal Sun and Brianna Beckman.
Qunci Mann – 23
Crystal Sun – 9
Erin Hanley – 6
Sydney Raggio – 6
Brianna Beckman – 4
Lorna Tuufuli – 15
Kelly Wong – 10
Taylor Sui – 8
Katarina Lum – 6
Hana Murphy – 5