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CCS basketball: Mitty beats Pinewood again in Open final

SANTA CLARA — Archbishop Mitty coach Sue Phillips always says she wants her teams ready for March. The big games arrived a little early this season, but the Monarchs were ready.
Boy, were they ready.
In the annual matchup against Pinewood for the Central Coast Section Open Division girls basketball championship, Mitty left no doubt which team was best, rolling to a 72-51 victory at Santa Clara University’s Leavey Center.
It was the Monarchs’ fourth consecutive CCS Open crown — all against Pinewood — and the program’s 28th section title overall. Pinewood has lost in the Open final the past five seasons.
“We played really, really good defense tonight,” Phillips said. “Had some breadowns but really locked in on their 3-point threat. We had the right people taking. The 3s that they did make it wasn’t the people that really get them going.”
Of course, the white elephant in the room was the game that got away from Mitty, a triple-overtime loss to Pinewood in the Northern California Open Division championship game last season.
As Hales Jones said after she finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, the Monarchs were eager for payback.
“We wanted it really bad after last year,” Jones said. “It was kind of a redemption game. We also wanted it for the senior class because it’s a four-peat in CCS, which hasn’t been done in the Open Division. Now we’re just looking forward, game by game, trying to be back because the senior class also hasn’t won a state title. We’re trying to get there.”
Hunter Hernandez, only a sophomore, had a huge game for Mitty, finishing with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
“Hunter’s amazing,” Phillips said. “Hunter can do anything on the floor. The way she got on the glass today, particularly on the offensive boards, and just asserted herself early on the offensive side of the ball, she’s always been a defensive presence for us. It’s great to see her put both ends of the floor together.”
Mitty took command early, building a 10-2 cushion midway through the first quarter. The Monarchs cut off passing lanes with active defenders and length, dominated the boards and kept everyone not named Courtni Thompson from getting into any offensive rhythm.
If not for Thompson, the score might have been out of reach by halftime. Instead, her 13 points — which included three 3-pointers — kept Pinewood within striking distance at the break, down 30-21.
Mitty scored the first four points of the third quarter and maintained the double-didgit edge the rest of the way.
“They deserved to win,” Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said. “We played really hard, but we just didn’t do a great job minimizing how many easy baskets they got — putbacks. Hunter Hernandez had 21 and I would say 14 of them were layups were off of putbacks or open layups. Sheer hustle, just attackling the ball, wanting the ball more than us. It was a physicality issue and desire for the ball.”
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