Redwood makes history with first section title

The Redwood High girls basketball seemed intent on leaving no doubts about the eventual winner of Friday night’s North Coast Section Division II championship game at the Dominican University gymnasium in San Rafael.

The Giants (24-8) led from first whistle to final buzzer en route to a solid 50-41 victory against Northgate (Walnut Creek) and hoisted the school’s first girls basketball section title pennant.

“It feels amazing,” said Redwood forward Kitty White, who scored a game-high 23 points and pulled down seven rebounds. “Coach just told us to go out and be champs – to play as a team and win this title as a team.”

The top-seed Giants personified the team concept.

“At one point this season we won 12 straight games,” Redwood coach Zach Borello said. “That got our confidence up and got everybody going. That’s when I told the girls let’s put this season together. And we did. We got the top-ranking in Division II – and that’s what we were shooting for so we wouldn’t have to get on a bus. And we never got on a bus.”

Redwood, however, drove the vehicles of success Friday night, namely rebounding and free-throw shooting. The Giants converted 17-of-28 free throws — Northgate was 3 of 12 from the stripe — and outrebounded the Broncos nearly two-to-one (38-20).

Redwood center Brooke Denler was a rebounding tour de force, sweeping the boards for 22 rebounds and blocking three shots.

“In my mind, every rebound was mine tonight,” Denler said. “Rebounding really doesn’t take skill. It takes effort. I tried hard to get as many as I possibly could.”

White, who scored a number of her buckets after Denler rebounds, could not say enough about her teammate’s strength in the paint.

“She just came out with crazy energy,” White said. “It seemed like she found a way to get all the rebounds. She makes all the hustle plays.”

Nearly all the Redwood players had a hand in the success at the free-throw line, but two of the biggest makes came with three minutes remaining in the game and the Giants clinging to a 45-41 lead.

Maya Saibel stepped to the line and swished a pair.

Northgate didn’t score another point.

“Maya could probably go 10 for 10,” White said. “I’d trust my life with her on the free-throw line.”

White started the show by knocking down a three-point shot and the Giants raced off to a 14-6 first-period lead.

“We usually get off to quick starts playing an outside-in style,” Borello said. “But we had some luck early the other way and changed our strategy and ended up playing a lot of inside-out.”

Northgate, the sixth-seed, took advantage of a bit of cold shooting in the second quarter by the Giants and narrowed its deficit to 24-19 at intermission.

Redwood built a 35-27 lead with 22 seconds remaining in the third period, but a turnover and a driving layup by Emilia Shrag (22 points) at the buzzer made it a six-point game entering the final eight minutes.

Northgate scored first in the final period, but Redwood guard Ainsley Gallagher countered with her first of two three-pointers in the final stanza.

Midway through the period, Northgate went on a 6-0 run to close to within a field goal but the Giants sank five free throws in the final three minutes to seal the victory.

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *