Despite 17 points by Alyssa Andrews and a spirited effort by her teammates, the Vintage High girls basketball team came out on the short end of a helter-skelter contest Thursday as it fell 58-46 to Mission San Jose at the Napa High’s Messner Gym in the opening round of the Wine Valley Tournament.
“Andrews played well,” said Crushers head coach Joe Donohoe said of the junior.
“She’s a great player and that’s why she was First Team All-(Monticello Empire League) as a sophomore.”
The undefeated Warriors (5-0) came into the game ranked No. 2 in the North Coast Section and No. 16 in the state.
“I couldn’t be happier with our effort,” Donohoe said. “We played with Mission San Jose the whole way and they’re a great team.”
The Crushers (2-4) got the visitors’ attention by running out to a quick 7-2 lead in the first quarter, as Nicole Gleeson was rebounding with authority and blocking shots. Mission San Jose finally hit some outside shots and scored seven straight points to take a 9-8 lead at the end of the quarter.
The lead changed hands back and forth in the second quarter, with Bailey Loban scoring six straight points at one point to keep Vintage close. But it was a defensive play by Gleeson that brought the crowd to its feet, when she ran down a Warriors player going in for a fast-break layup and blocked the shot from behind.
At the half, Mission San Jose held a slim 23-22 lead and had to be wondering who this feisty Vintage team was.
Donohoe told his time to “play like your hair’s on fire” as they took the court in the third quarter and, for a while, they did just that. Andrews drove through the Warriors defense for a tough bucket, and Gleeson followed with an inside basket to give Vintage a 26-23 lead. It was short-lived.
Mission San Jose reeled off eight straight points to take a 31-26 lead it would never relinquish. Maya Sapienza and Morgan Groves came off the bench to make back-to-back baskets to bring Vintage to within 33-30 at the end of the third quarter, but the Crushers would get no closer.
The fourth quarter looked like it might be tight as the teams exchanged baskets, until Mission San Jose’s talented guard tandem of Meghna Nair and Shannon Chau took over. Time after time they launched long threes that touched nothing but net, which made a Vintage comeback win wishful thinking.
When the Crushers were forced to foul, the Warriors showed they were deadly from the charity stripe, as well. Nair and Chau finished with 21 and 16 points, respectively.
“They played like a team that’s been together for a long time,” Donohoe observed. “We need to work on our late-game stuff, but, this is what preseason games are for. Our goal is to make the playoffs.”
Groves had 10 points, Loban scored six, Gleeson added five, Megan Kuehl had four, and Kate Ilsley and Sapienza rounded out the Vintage scoring with two apiece.
Vintage next plays at 4 p.m. Friday in a consolation bracket game against the Tracy Bulldogs (2-4), who lost their opening game to Rancho Cotate.