The team couldn't find a sixth-grade tournament to compete in over the holidays, so the girls hit the hardwood against the taller and more physical seventh-graders. Coach Jeff Cast believed "playing up" would be good preparation for the second half of the season. The result: another tournament championship.
The sixth-grade girls of Holy Rosary are currently 6-0 this season. They haven't lost a league game in three years (extending their league win streak to 28). And they've won all of their games in the last three Christmas Tournaments, two Thanksgiving Tournaments and the last two years of East Diablo playoffs.
In the tournament's first game, Holy Rosary came out slow, playing timidly against the older team, St. Joan of Arc from San Ramon. Tied 8-8 tie after one period, Holy Rosary realized it could compete with the older girls and clamped down defensively in the second quarter, jumping out to a 15-8 halftime lead.
A balanced scoring attack saw three players in double figures, led by Makenzie Cast's 17 points, and Monique Cardenas' and Jordan Nickola's 10. St. Joan of Arc had no answer for Holy Rosary press, which accumulated 34 steals, led by Cast and Cardenas, both with seven. Jacqueline Laird and Nickola contributed five each.
Asia Mays' and Nickola's 10 rebounds and Tunmi Da Silva's and Cast's eight rebounds dominated the glass. The 44-25 win propelled the team to the championship game against CCOP (Catholic Community of Pleasanton).
The first-half lead in the championship game against the taller CCOP team was a back-and-forth affair. Holy Rosary again turned up the heat on defense, and CCOP couldn't keep up with the guard speed and up-tempo, fast-breaking game of Holy Rosary. Priscilla Chaves came off the bench in third quarter to spark the defense with three quick steals.
Margery DiGiulio hit a shot at the end the third quarter that ignited the lady cagers to a 10-point lead that they pushed to 17 early in the fourth quarter, coasting to a 43-31 victory and the championship trophy.
Seven Holy Rosary players scored, led by Cast, who notched a 24-point, 10-rebound double-double, to which she added five steals. Mays just missed the double-double, scoring nine points and snagging nine rebounds. Also keeping the taller CCOP team off the boards were Jordan Sanchez, Da Silva, Nickola with five rebounds apiece, Cardenas with four, and Sloan Hennington and Laird with three.
"I was happy to see them raise their game against the older kids," said coach Cast. "It was a good all-around team effort on both ends of the court."