Ponderosa falters in home opener

By From page A6 | December 11, 2013

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BRUIN Madison Clayton knifes between two defenders on her way to the basket Monday. Democrat photo by Krysten Kellum.

SHINGLE SPRINGS — On its short list for Christmas the Ponderosa girls need poise under pressure, inside touch, consistency and for good measure, point guard skills as all four alluded the Lady Bruins in their home opener Monday night against Granite Bay.

What the Grizzlies lacked in height and roster numbers they made up with tenacity — hint, something else for Ponderosa’s wish list — as Granite Bay out hustled and outplayed the Bruins after the first quarter en route to the 56-49 nonleague victory.

The visitors were led by Julia Manduca’s game-high 27 points, 12 from Daeja Black and 11 (19 rebounds) from Annie Wright. Danielle Craft’s 19 points led Ponderosa followed by Madison Clayton’s nine and Tiffany Nesterenko with eight.

The Bruins did rebound well Monday — it’s  one of their strengths — but so did the Grizzlies whose second and third chance points impacted the outcome. Aiding those stats was the combined 25 percent the teams shot from the floor; for Ponderosa, its loss of Clayton to fouls with 3:06 left also played a role.

Fresh off three wins at the Woodland Tournament over the weekend, the Bruins were headed for another as Craft scored the game’s first five points. Her two free throws put Ponderosa up nine in the second quarter before Granite Bay chipped away to pull even at the half.

“In the first quarter you saw how we can play but then after that we self-destructed,” Bruin coach Noel O’Donnell said. “It’s very frustrating because we easily should have beaten Granite Bay.”

The Grizzlies’ trapping, full-court pressure bothered Ponderosa. Nine Bruin turnovers in the third quarter helped Granite Bay to a 43-36 lead going to the fourth.

Putbacks by Alex Boyle and Clayton to open the final eight minutes was a promising start for Ponderosa but Manduca answered with two free throws and Wright a short jumper as the Grizzlies maintained their lead down the stretch.

Nesterenko hauled in 12 rebounds while both Boyle and Clayton collected 10 apiece.

Craft and Clayton, two sophomores, will anchor the Bruins this season. Boyle and Nesterenko will be factors and O’Donnell is hopeful Sophia George can have a big senior season. Ashlynn Zentner, Danielle Becker, Delaney Jacobs and Mackenzie O’Donnell saw extended minutes off the bench for Ponderosa Monday. Senior Taylor Yancey, a starter, missed the game because of injury.

“There’s great chemistry with this team and the team can be magical if they can pull it together,” Noel O’Donnell said. “It’s early so we have a while to get things figured out.”

Jerry Heinzer

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