Basketball: Pinewood girls deny Cardinal Newman’s upset bid

LOS ALTOS HILLS — It must’ve felt like déjà vu for the
Pinewood girls basketball team inside its own gym Wednesday
night.

On March 14, 2017, Cardinal Newman pulled off a 59-57 upset in
the CIF NorCal Open Division semifinals on the same court.

Stanford-bound Hannah Jump, Klara Astrom, Trinity Copeland and
Kaitlyn Leung were sophomores way back when.

Flashbacks to that night seemed inevitable as Pinewood, which
came in at No. 2 in the preseason Bay Area News Group Girls Top 25,
trailed by double digits in the second half only moments after
stepping out of the locker room.

The Panthers kept within striking range until one of the seniors
caught fire, as Leung scored all of her 13 points in the fourth
quarter to spark a 58-56 comeback victory.

“We did a great job ratcheting down, digging down deep,”
Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said. “Those are the games you want
to give your girls confidence that they can play in that type of
environment and perform.”

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Leung, a 5-foot-3 guard, got off to a slow start.

That wasn’t the case for Cardinal Newman (4-2), which was
powered by the backcourt of Avery Cargill and Anya Choice with 25
and 16 points, respectively.

“Those two guards, they’re high-echelon,” Scheppler said.
“They make those other players a lot more effective when they can
hit open 3s. And to take that away, you’ve got to pick your
poison — like when you play us. It’s a similar philosophy that
they have.”

It showed during the opening 83 seconds of the third quarter,
with Cargill drilling back-to-back treys and teammate Christina
Bacci also connecting from beyond the arc to push a tenuous 33-29
lead at the half into a commanding 42-29 advantage.

Pinewood (2-0) ended a 5½-minute scoring drought out of the
locker room on a layup by Annika Decker, who finished with eight
points.

Fellow sophomore Una Jovanovic matched the scoring output, but
her most influential moment came with almost a minute left in the
third quarter. Not only did Jovanovic block a shot in the paint,
she spearheaded a fastbreak and found Jump wide open for a
3-pointer that drew a roar from the stands.

Despite all of that, the Panthers still trailed 50-42 with five
minutes left in the game.

In desperate need of offense, Scheppler kept Copeland — who
went scoreless — on the court.

“Defensively, we couldn’t take her off the floor,”
Scheppler said. “She was one of the main reasons we were able to
win.”

Ditto for Astrom, whose relentless hustle materialized in a
team-high 16 points.

That set the stage for Leung, who gave Pinewood the lead for the
first time since the opening minute of the game with back-to-back
corner treys only 17 seconds apart to cap a 10-0 run that prompted
a timeout.

“There’s no better feeling,” Leung said as the bench leapt
to mob her. “It’s like I know that I’m helping my team and
I’m glad they’re reciprocating and trusting me that I can help
them, even when I was in a slump at the start.”

“She’s the type of player on our team that’s the ‘prove
it to you’ for their team,” Scheppler said. “They’re not
going to let Hannah hit open shots, they’re not going to let
Klara hit open shots, and when we don’t finish at the rim we
don’t any offensive second-chance opportunities because everybody
is spacing on the floor.

“So credit to them defensively for taking away our strengths
and not giving us clean looks, but credit to our players that dug
down deep.”

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Leung sank a wide-open 3-pointer to put Pinewood ahead for good
55-52 with 2:38 left, then beat the shot clock with 13 seconds left
for the insurance points needed to hold on at the end.

But, in her mind, the scoring was secondary.

It was a charge that she drew earlier in the game that shook
Leung out of her slump.

“I think defense is a little more important, so even though
I’m making shots I want to make sure that I have the same
equivalent impact on defense,” Leung said. “So once I have
that, I feel like the shots are coming in. I felt complete and I
felt like I do more for my team now.”

Next up for Pinewood is a trip to Oakland to face No. 5-ranked
Bishop O’Dowd (1-2) on Saturday. Tip-off is scheduled at
noon.

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Basketball: Pinewood girls deny Cardinal Newman’s upset bid