By GERARDO RECINOS
It could be decided by a human, a computer, a robot developing feelings for the first time, or an octopus with divine powers, but one thing’s for sure, Miramonte’s girls basketball program is one of the nation’s best.
In fact, it’s the nations fourth best according to MaxPreps. That’s all been heard before, however. Everyone who enters the “Matadome” in Orinda knows it, and everyone who has entered the building in the past knows it.
Since Jan. 14, 2011, the Matadors have not lost in Orinda. The last team to do it? Miramonte’s bitter rivals, the Campolindo Cougars.
So what chance did the reeling, last place Bulldogs have? Alhambra lost on Friday by a score of 76-30.
Before the game coach Jason Bautista said that against teams like Miramonte who have all the talent in the world, teams set smaller goals that are more realistic. For the Lady Dogs, it would be about putting up a better performance than their last game against Miramonte, an 80-17 stomping in January.
Alhambra’s girls went out and battled the team Kelly Sopak sent out, which included the nation’s best high school guard, Sabrina Ionescu. The not yet committed senior dropped 12 points in a sparing role on the court. Her presence was nevertheless felt, and Saelym Schmidt found her self busy as she was the player tasked to try and slow down the All-American.
Alhambra hung with the Mats in a quick first quarter. Big jump shots from juniors Alanis Lara and Schmidt kept the Bulldogs within four, with only a late three-pointer from Eastern Washington commit Uriah Howard building the lead back up.
Miramonte’s 10-1 run helped them build up a big lead to start the second quarter. Keana Delos Santos, who hadn’t seen much action up to that point, scored all four of her points for the evening during the run.
The Utah Valley State commit’s ability to run the court was on display when Ionescu wasn’t on the court. Sopak ran two different units that allowed his starters to play with some of the younger players on the team.
Alhambra could only muster eight-point efforts in the opening two quarters, and did their best to grab nine points in the third quarter.
The start to the second half may have scared them off a bit however, The full-strength Matadors reeled off an 11-0 run in two minutes and 15 seconds.
Ionescu had five of the 11 points, including a corner 3-pointer, and a cross-court pass to assist Claire Steele, who had nine points in the win.
Only baskets from seniors Cara DiMercurio and Aly Najera kept the Bulldogs from drawing up a blank in the final quarter.
Miramonte scored 20 to back up a 22-point third quarter and put the Bulldogs away from good.
In the Friday defeat, the Bulldog girls put up the third-highest point total they’ve put up against Miramonte. In their last 10 meetings, only last year’s 71-52 loss under Sara Pippo and a 2012 84-53 loss under Mike Wilson were better results.
The 76 points allowed is the third lowest total as well in the last 10 meetings between the two teams.