Mary Star High girls basketball tested themselves with a grueling nonleague and tournament schedule before bulldozing their way to a third straight Santa Fe League championship, setting themselves up for arguably their toughest postseason journey yet.
Opening off the CIF-Southern Section Division 2-A playoffs against visiting Valley Christian of Cerritos, the Stars shook off a slow start by delivering an overwhelming scoring blitz to win 63-31 over the Defenders on Saturday.
Trailing 10-6 midway through the first quarter, Mary Star (19-4), who won the Division 4-AA championship last season, responded by scoring 27 unanswered points and cruised from there to set up a second round showdown with Brentwood on Wednesday, 7 pm at Brentwood High.
The game-breaking run began with 2:03 remaining in the first quarter when sophomore guard Drea Lopez banked in a three-pointer. In the closing seconds of the opening frame, a driving layup by junior guard Bella Marconi through contact while drawing the foul made it 15-10 by quarter’s end. Once the second quarter surfaced, Mary Star scored the next 18 points of the contest, with several players getting into the act as six different Stars scored, paced by sophomore forward Madison Watts.
Defensively, as usual under ninth-year coach Victor Tuberosi, the Stars made things chaotic for the Defenders (8-19), limiting them to just three points in the second quarter, allowing the Stars to take a commanding 37-13 halftime advantage.
In all, by the time the game came to its conclusion, the Stars forced 31 Valley Christian turnovers, and Watts delivered a double-double with 30 points and 13 rebounds.
Balance was tantamount for the Stars’ offensively, and despite a cold shooting night from Lopez (1-for-9 from three-point range), she contributed with eight points and five assists. Marconi scored 7 points, while junior guard Jozy Jaramillo and freshman guard Shay Williamson scored six points apiece for Mary Star.
Not to be left out was the tough defense all around from sophomore forward Amy Duarte, junior guard Paula Serrano and senior center Marlena Rivera who contributed greatly off the bench.
Mary Star goes into Brentwood on a ten-game winning streak, and Tuberosi improves to 7-0 in CIF-SS playoff opening games.
(Photo courtesy of Miguel Elliot)