Mendocino, CA 95460
High School Hoops, Mendocino, March 2, 2017
The Mendocino High school girls Varsity basketball team delivered an after-school lesson in the fundamentals of the game to Emery High school as they thrashed the visiting Spartans 58-34 in the second round of Division 6 NCS League playoffs on March 1. And now the Cardinals will travel to the big city – to Santa Rosa – on Saturday night as they carry the hopes of Mendocino County with them into the Championship game of the CIF NCS League Division 6.
The Cardinals put on an exhibition in the fundamentals of the game for their over-matched opponents from the Bay Area. In play execution, shot selection and accuracy, passing and particularity in defense, the Cards appeared to have been much better prepared.
As the teams warmed up before the game, it appeared that Mendocino might have their hands full. This was particularly true with regards to the center position, a spot dominated in almost every game Mendo has played this season by big sophomore Tayler Kolby-Kishbaugh. But she more than met her match physically in Spartan center Stephanie Okowi.
Not only is Okowi as tall as Kolby-Kishbaugh, but probably a bit stronger in her upper body. And these two really duked it out. It was good hard clean basketball, but very physical indeed. At one point after she and Okowi had collided in mid-air, Kolby-Kishbaugh came down hard and cracked the back of her head on the floor hard enough to produce a thud audible 15 feet away. But she is a soldier and reentered the game after taking a breather, even hitting a trey late in the game.
As for Okowi, she threw up a stunning amount of shots that just would not go down. But a subtext to the game is that she is but a freshman, meaning she’s only 14 or at most 15 years old. And the promise of things to come for Okowi was well Illustrated when she dropped a beautiful turnaround jumper from about 9 feet after missing a number of easy layups. If she can continue her athletic development she will be a absolute force to be reckoned with in the conference.
But it was a Cardinal night in a Mendocino high gymnasium crammed with boisterous redbird supporters. And the Cardinals delivered the goods to the hometown crowd in the form of a decisive victory that propels them into the League Championship game Saturday night, and assures them of a berth in the State Championships.
The Cards were led by Jaycee Hendricks with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Mendocino has great depth, and so Hendricks was backed up by the always-steady team captain and point guard Emily Symonds (10 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 9 steals, and 2 blocks), Aimee Gordon (15 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals, and a block) and Kolby-Kishbaugh, who had 7 points, 5 rebounds, a steal and a block.
The Mendocino Cardinals have done phenomenally well under coach Vince Lee this season, now 22-5 after assembling a near-perfect conference record of 13-1.
These girls are the pride of our Coast, and they represent the hopes of Mendocino County as they advance into the championship game against Rincon Valley Christian at 7 pm in Santa Rosa on March 4.