Modesto Christian girls' lack of depth hurts against Vanden
SACRAMENTO, Feb 27, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Playing with seven players finally has caught up to Modesto Christian.
The Crusaders girls have had only two bench reserves on the varsity level all season, but on Tuesday night they ran into a Vanden team that not only could see MC's seven, but raise them four.
The Vikings used that depth to swarm the entire second half, during which they limited the Crusaders to 12 points and pulled away to a 66-50 victory at Cosumnes River College.
Modesto Christian (21-9) is out of contention for a sixth Sac-Joaquin Section title since 2006 -- and its first as a Division 3 program -- but the Crusaders still will be seeded into the NorCal regional.
Seedings for the next step will be announced Sunday, but as a semifinal loser Modesto Christian certainly will open play Wednesday night on the road.
"I think we might have relied on the idea that win or lose we were still going on," said junior Lexi Tubbs, who scored 14 points for the Crusaders. "Even with this loss tonight, we have a chance to go to state, and that may have been in the back of our minds."
Had this been a seven-on-seven game, Modesto Christian would have had the upper hand. The Crusaders, while fresh, were able to open a 12-point lead, 31-19, midway through the second quarter.
Vanden (27-3) pressured MC up and down the court the entire game in an obvious effort to wear down the Crusaders.
The focus of that pressure was on 5-foot-2 sophomore point guard Ashley Lucas, who burned the Vikings for a team-high 15 points, but was frequently trapped in the back court by the bigger Vanden guards.
"I know we put a lot of pressure on Ashley, and that's why one of her teammates has to step up and help her," said MC coach Robb Spencer. "If someone helps by bringing the ball up for her, that would help Ashley a lot."
Lucas scored on a drive with 5:46 left in the third quarter to give the Crusaders a 42-36 lead, but that would be final bright moment for the Crusaders, who all seemed to hit the wall at once.
Vanden immediately embarked on a 16-0 scoring run, with post Mariah Williams scoring eight of her team-high 15 points in the spurt, and since MC had nobody with legs fresh enough to challenge the run, the Vikings were in complete control at 53-42.
"During the run our defense would not step over to take a charge," Spencer said. "We've been taking charges all year, but not tonight. We can still do that with seven players."
Modesto Christian did have players on the bench, since the majority of the junior varsity team was elevated for the postseason. But since these were the seven players who got the Crusaders to this points, these were the seven with which Spencer stayed.
"The third quarter it showed when we ran out of gas and didn't have anybody to go to," Spencer said. "I still think that without a couple missed shots and some bad possessions it could have been different."
Jasmine Hampton added 13 points and Hoku Faiaipau eight as MC placed only four players in the scoring column. Conversely, Vanden had six players with seven or more points.
"Knowing we're still playing takes the sting out of not winning the section, but just a little," Spencer said. "It makes our NorCal road longer, but we've been in this situation before.
"We're not going to sulk, we're going to come back tomorrow at practice and see who awaits us on Wednesday."
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