By Jeremy Balan
The St. Ignatius girls basketball team didn’t play its best against visiting Mitty on Saturday night, specifically in a second quarter where the Monarchs outscored the Wildcats 25-6.
Even if the Wildcats were at their best, the way Mitty was shooting, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to win.
The Monarchs hit 10-of-13 shot attempts in that second quarter and 9-of-13 shots from three-point range on the night to cruise to a 63-47 West Catholic Athletic victory.
The defending Division II state champions were more versatile offensively in the first half and carried a 35-16 lead into the halftime break, but relied almost entirely on three-pointers in the second. The Monarchs (9-3, 2-0) shot 6-of-8 from three-point range and 2-of-18 from inside the arc in the second half.
“Threes are a big momentum boost for either side,” said Mitty head coach Sue Phillips. “We just happened to be fortunate tonight with the three ball.”
Every time the Wildcats (10-2, 0-1) threatened to cut the lead to single digits – first, after a 9-1 run to start the third quarter, and another moment early in the fourth – Mitty immediately responded with a run of its own keyed by multiple three-pointers.
“We had some great defensive sequences where they went to 2 or 1 [seconds] on the shot clock and they made a shot or scooped the ball in,” said St. Ignatius head coach Michael Mulkerrins. “We played some pretty good defense at times, but when a team is hitting shots like that, you’re not going to beat them.”
Four Mitty players scored in double figures, led by 12 points from standout junior Kelli Hayes. The next two leading scorers for the Monarchs were shooters – freshman guard Jahnay Anderson and senior guard Emily Dinger – who had 11 points apiece on a combined 6-of-8 shooting from three-point range.
“We have a really talented group from top to bottom and kids that are versatile,” Phillips said. “We have kids that can knock down a three, and some that are slashers and good off the bounce.”
Sophomore forward Brianna Beckman was the only St. Ignatius player to score in double figures with 10 points, but she did so on limited opportunities. Beckman hit 5-of-7 attempts from the field and only took three shots in the second half.
“Brianna is a good player. She’s savvy and she’s smart,” Mulkerrins said. “I don’t know if their game plan was to take Beckman out or not, but whatever it was, if they try to take away one of your best players, somebody else has to step up.”
In a game that featured multiple anomalies – the Mitty long-distance shooting coupled with the Wildcats’ 0-for-10 performance from beyond the arc and a 13-for-25 night at the free-throw line – Mulkerrins was still encouraged, even in the losing effort.
“I honestly don’t think we played a bad game. It’s a weird feeling, because we lost by 16,” Mulkerrins said. “What I told them is that Mitty went 10-for-13 in that span [in the second quarter] and we went 12-for-25 from the free throw line, and we’re a much better shooting team than that. Do we have some encouraging things? Yeah, but we just gotta get better at them.”
Kelli Hayes – 12
Jahnay Anderson – 11
Emily Dinger – 11
Vanessa Garner – 10
Kaliya Griffin – 8
Brianna Beckman – 10
Tatiana Ranis – 8
Erin Hanley – 6
Three players tied with 4 points