Novato out-hustles Lady Dragons
1st-round NCS road loss ends Sonoma girls’season
Sonoma’s Mackenzie Albrecht (No. 11) attempts to pull in a rebound along with teammates Delaney Swanson (middle, No. 20) and Megan Neely (right) during the 11th-seeded Lady Dragons’ NCS Division-3 opening-round Tuesday night loss at sixth-seed Novato.
In a highly competitive, fast-paced and evenly matched North Coast Section Division-3 first-round playoff road battle Tuesday night, the 11th-seed Sonoma Valley High School varsity basketball girls opened the fourth-quarter with senior Ashley Vail’s three-point play giving them a 38-36 lead over sixth-seed Novato.
After both postseason teams exchanged leads three more times, the Lady Dragons – who also got standout efforts from junior Giana Monterosso and sophomores Mackenzie Albrecht and Delaney Swanson – took a two-point edge on sophomore Alexa Hall’s trey.
But then host Novato empathically took command of the stretch drive.
Beating the Sonoma cagers to all the 50-50 loose balls and rebounds, the Hornet girls rode the hot hand of sophomore Janea Earlytook, who scored 13 points, including three treys, in a 15-2 run that sealed a 56-45 win to advance to the second-round.
For the young Lady Dragons – with only three seniors on the roster, including Vail, Ali Romano and injured captain and point-guard Kendall Ashe, who was sorely missed the past three games, all losses – the NCS Division-3 appearance lasted a rare one game and their 2012-13 season came to a sudden end.
Rounding out the Sonoma girls’ postseason roster – directed by head coach Sil Coccia and assistant coaches Steve Semenero and Dino Minatta – were juniors Madi Burningham, Amanda Lacy, and Megan Neely, and added from the junior varsity team, sophomores Hanna Lemaire, Sierra Lilly and Ciara Smith.
“I was proud of our seniors and their commitment – we definitely missed Kendall (Ashe) and her leadership and contributions the last three games – and of our young players, who played hard and gained a lot of experience in pressure situations,” said Coccia. “I’m also extremely proud of our girls’ basketball program, which has taken years to develop from youth programs to the high school level. Our varsity, jayvee and freshman teams combined for 50 wins this season, so you can say without doubt that youth has been served.”
Pacing the Lady Dragons (15-13 record) against Novato were Albrecht’s double-double of 11 points and 14 rebounds to go with two steals and two assists; Vail’s 11 points and five rebounds; Monterosso’s seven points, five assists, five rebounds and two steals; Hall’s six points and two assists; Swanson’s four points, six rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot; Romano’s four points and two assists; and Neely’s two points and five rebounds.