Cardinals Sink Vikings Late to Advance in NorCals
The Cardinal Newman Cardinals faced the Palo Alto Vikings in Santa Rosa, CA, at the John Fitzgerald Gymnasium at Cardinal Newman. Newman came into the game with the 7 seed in the CIF Division 1 Playoffs and the Vikings had the 10 seed. Newman had gone 1-1 in the NCS Open Division Tournament and had a record of 22-5 coming into the game. Palo Alto came in at 22-4, but Newman was the favorite. Newman had an incredible student section that distracted Palo Alto in the first half and helped slow them in the 4th. The away section was on fire during the 3rd Quarter, throwing Newman off a bit and causing turnovers.
Newman has had lethal shooting during the year with the whole team shooting incredibly from 3 point range. They have also been able to get inside with everyone being able to penetrate the inside and make plays. The starting 5 of Newman made NBL All League after an incredible season, going undefeated in league again, and winning the NBL Oak Championship. Senior Guard Reese Searcy, Senior Center Ari Johnson, Junior Guard Julia Brunetti, Junior Guard Abbie Mullins and Freshman Forward Kate Schat all made NBL All League after having incredible seasons. Palo Alto won the De Anza League and represented the Central Coast Section of the CIF. Both teams had great seasons and were ready to face off in front of a huge crowd.
Palo Alto came out with Kaella Peters, Jessica Fiske, Vienn Shieng, Natalie Neumann and Itzel Torres to start for their 15 year head coach Scott Peters. Newman started with their All-League starting 5 of Reese Searcy, Abbie Mullins, Kate Schat, Julia Brunetti and Ari Johnson that were ready to play for 11 year Head Coach Monica Mertle. Ari Johnson won the tip for Newman and tipped it to Searcy who drained a three, giving Newman a 3-0 lead. Palo Alto went out in a 2-3 zone which is prey to Newman's lethal 3 point attack. Julia Brunetti got off to a hot start, collecting boards and throwing up reverse layups, making it look easy. Itzel Torres hit two free throws to score the first points of the game for Palo Alto mid way through the 1st quarter. Newman led 9-2 after Janelle Pena and Brunetti hit layups that forced Palo Alto to call a timeout. Nadia Brown came in after the timeout for the Vikings and forced Newman's first turnover which she converted into a clutch layup to cut the lead to 5. Brunetti responded to it with a great 3 pointer that rallied the Newman student section on White Out Night. The Vikings and Cardinals traded off free throw attempts, with Torres making 1 of 2 and Leah Martinez hitting 2 of 2. Natalie Neumann closed out scoring in the first with a layup assisted terrifically by Peters. Julia Brunetti blocked the buzzer beater attempt by Peters to end the 1st Quarter. Newman led 14-7 at the end of the first quarter which had been rebound city for them.
Palo Alto came out in man to man defense in the 2nd Quarter to try to stop Newman. It didn't work though as Kate Schat opened up the 2nd by nailing a corner 3 and hitting a free throw that put Newman's lead at 11. Nadia Brown continued to show off her speed by nailing a jumper after running coast to coast before Palo Alto called a timeout. Palo Alto switched back to a 2-3 zone and Newman started getting hot. Abbie Mullins hit 3 consecutive threes after missing 4 in a row, replicating her performance against Heritage in the NCS Open Division where she did the same. Katherine Garr drained Palo Alto's first 3 pointer to shorten the lead to 12. She did it again, banking a long three to cut the Newman lead to single digits. Newman responded with a 5-0 run that ended the half off with Newman leading by 14, 29-15.
Palo Alto got off to a hot start in the 3rd Quarter, hitting back to back threes to open scoring and force Newman to call a timeout. Searcy responded to this by draining a clutch three pointer to push the lead back to 11. Neumann and Peters then both nailed layups for the Vikings and shortened the deficit to 7. Searcy came in clutch again and drained another three to make the lead 10. Abbie Mullins then hit another three from the corner to make the Newman lead 13 and silence the away section. Nadia Brown hit a three to cut the lead back to 10 and liven the away section. After another 3 from the Vikings, Searcy powered to the rim and hit a beautiful layup while under pressure. Palo Alto finished off the third with a 14-8 run and were 6 for 6 from 3 point range during the quarter. In the final moments, they cut the lead to just 4 and entered the 4th, down 43-39.
Newman reignited themselves in the 4th when Reese Searcy hit another 3 to make Newman's lead 46-41 with 6:38 remaining. Reese followed her own 3 up with another 3 that made Newman's lead 49-43. Abbie Mullins then drained her 5th three of the night that made the Newman lead 9 points with under 4:30 to go. Martinez made the Newman lead 11 when she came out of a pile with the ball and laid it in with 3:10 remaining. Fiske missed then made a three to cut the Newman lead to 8, but it wasn't enough. Searcy spun her way to the rim and laid it in to make the Newman lead double digits again. Abbie Mullins drained 2 free throws and Newman closed it out. The Cardinals took the game by a score of 58-46, after a 15-5 run in the 4th.
Reese Searcy won the YSN365 Community First Credit Union Player of the Game after a fantastic performance of 22 points and 5 rebounds. Abbie Mullins finished with 17 points and Julia Brunetti finished with 7 points, 3 steals and 11 rebounds for the Cardinals. Leah Martinez finished with 4 points and 7 rebounds. On the other side, Vienn Sheng finished with 12 points and 1 rebound, and Nadia Brown finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals. Palo Alto finished 22-5 and the top of the league. Congrats Vikings!
The Cardinals moved onto face St. Mary's in Stockton and lost by 4 to a tough Rams team. Newman finished 23-6 and Oak League Champs, going undefeated in League. After going 6-4 in their first 10 games, the Cardinals, they went on an incredible 15 game win streak where they beat 14 of 15 opponents by double digits. It ended when they lost to Bishop O'Dowd in the Open Division, but a week later, they won again against Heritage. Newman outscored League opponents 706-290 going 10-0 and only allowed over 50 points to a league opponent against West County. Newman had a great season and while it's sad to see Seniors Ari Johnson and Reese Searcy go, the Cardinals will be back with a great roster in 2022-23 and will dominate. Congrats Cardinals!