After retaining just four players from a season in which it could have been section and state champions (without Bishop O’Dowd getting in the way), there was some discussion about just how good Miramonte High would be in 2012-13.
End of discussion … enter the facts.
In winning the Dorothy Speck Memorial Tournament on Saturday afternoon — by beating Davis High, 84-41 — the Matadors served notice.
“They’re a very, very good team,” Blue Devil head coach Karen Foster told The Enterprise after DHS fell behind 46-16 before coming back somewhat in the second half. “We were a little overmatched, but 41 points against them? I’ll take it.”
As it turns out, the offensive performance by DHS was the best of the three teams Miramonte (3-0) mastered over the weekend.
On Thursday, the Mats waxed Granite Bay, 83-23. The Friday conquest of Chico was a little closer, 78-38.
The Matadors, who lost in both the North Coast Section finale and NorCal Division III championship contest to O’Dowd last year, finished that season 31-2.
This winter, coach Kelly Sopak sports six freshmen on his retooling squad. But judging from the weekend’s action, those underclassmen are going to be good ones — especially the trio of Sabrina Ionescu, Uriah Howard and Keana Delos Santos.
Ionescu is a long-range bomber who averaged 14 points per game in the Speck. She added 15 steals in the three games. Howard is a basket-attacker who had nine points against Davis, but made life miserable for the Devils inside with two blocks and four rebounds.
Delos Santos had four steals and a handful of assists to go with seven points.
Ranked as high as No. 3 in California last winter, Miramonte has wing Megan Reid, guard Carly Gill and center Breanna Alford returning as the nucleus of an offense that averaged almost 76 ppg in 2011-12.
Gill was named the tournament MVP on Saturday.
In other Saturday games, Chico topped last year’s Speck winner Woodcreek, 48-37, for third place. The consolation crown went to Granite Bay in a heart-stopping 50-48 win over River Valley. McQueen of Reno won the seventh-place game, 49-20, over Vacaville Christian.
In the consolation finals, Katrina Reeves hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to secure the dramatic victory.
At halftime, it looked like River Valley (4-3) would cruise as a 15-0 run gave the Falcons a 29-14 bulge at the break. However, with guard Daeja Black (22 points) playing hard at both ends of the court, the Grizzlies closed to within three points before the freshman guard fouled out with 1:38 left.
Reeves forced a late turnover that led to a GBHS (2-3) bucket, then took an in-bounds pass with 0.6 seconds in the game. Her one-touch, desperation launch from beyond the top of the key struck gold as the horn sounded and her teammates mobbed her at half-court.
Reeves finished with 15 points. River Valley’s Taylor Massengale had 11 points and 10 rebounds.
In the third-place game, Chico (4-2) took control in the second half after an uneven opening 16 minutes. Jessica Sibal led the Panthers with 13 points, Nina Holmes added 12 and Desi McKinney had 10. MacKenzie Kohler had 13 for Woodcreek (3-2).
Vacaville Christian’s Hailey Kenyon, yet another standout freshman, had all of her team’s points in that 49-20 loss to McQueen (1-1). The Falcons fell to 1-6 as Christina Farman’s 15 paced the Lancers.
In addition to MVP Gill, the all-tournament team included Blue Devils Anna Belenis, Tori Powell and Ashleigh Vandenbrink; Miramonte’s Alford and Reid; Chico’s Holmes; Reeves of Granite Bay; Liz Gehweiler of Woodcreek; and River Valley’s Massengale.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.