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By ERIK STORDAHL | SportStars   After a magical run in the North Coast Section and CIF Northern Regional playoffs, the Salesian-Richmond girls basketball...

By ERIK STORDAHL | SportStars

 

After a magical run in the North Coast Section and CIF Northern Regional playoffs, the Salesian-Richmond girls basketball team succumbed to La Jolla Country Day 72-41 in the CIF Div. IV state championship on March 23. Still, Pride head coach Stephen Pezzola was smiling afterward.

“We will sorely miss our seniors, but we are a very young team,” Pezzola said. “I think we will come back and be a better team next year, and we’ll be ready for more challenges. It’s a good learning experience.”

Make no mistake, La Jolla is a powerhouse. They’re nationally ranked ““ some media outlets have them as No. 1 in California and Top 3 in the country ““ and loaded with talent. Junior sharpshooter Kelsey Plum tied the CIF girls record with five 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 32 points. 

Because of Plum’s hot start, Salesian found itself in familiar territory when it trailed 18-3 after the first quarter.

“We were down, I think, 22-7 against St. Mary’s (of Berkeley) in the NCS final,” Pezzola said. “So getting down is something we’re used to on the scoreboard, but we don’t get down on ourselves.”

Although she had never played at Power Balance Pavilion before, Plum knew she’d fit right in. 

“I think as a shooter you can’t doubt yourself,” Plum said. “And the biggest thing with shooting is confidence. But I think the reason I got open shots, my teammates set great screens and they happened to put a lot of focus on Maya (Hood) and Malina (Hood).”

The Hood twins are both headed to the University of San Diego next season. Maya posted a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds and Malina added 10 points.

Mariya Moore, the Pride’s sophomore forward and undisputed leader, started clicking offensively in the third quarter by scoring 12 of her team’s 14 points. But by then it was too late. She finished with 19 points, six rebounds and three steals.

“We definitely will toughen up our schedule. I think that that did help (La Jolla Country Day),” Pezzola said. “But being very young, our schedule this year was much tougher than it was the previous year. … But, yeah, we will toughen it up.”


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