SHINGLE SPRINGS — Ponderosa High’s varsity girls basketball program lost 50-43 to visiting St. Francis Tuesday night, conceding 36 turnovers in the Lady Bruins’ Delta River League home opener.
Freshman Danielle Craft had a team-high 11 points on the night, firing 5-for-7 from the free throw line and hammering two, big three-point jumpers. Senior Megan Martinenko finished with eight points, as she had two deep daggers herself. Tiffany Nesterenko also had eight points, shooting 2-for-2 from the line.
As a team, the Bruins proved they were more than aggressive enough to hang with the Troubadours, and pushed through the first quarter neck-and-neck with their opponent en route to a 13-13 stalemate.
“I thought our toughness was there tonight,” Bruin head coach Noel O’Donnell said. “The girls were aggressive and we were definitely tough enough to play with (St. Francis). We just didn’t take care of the ball and we didn’t rebound. We said it going into this game, ‘If we take care of the ball and we rebound, we can win this game’ and that just didn’t happen tonight.”
St. Francis set out to pressure Ponderosa early, initiating a semi-full-court press from tip-off that grew in intensity throughout the night. At first, Bruin ball handlers such as Martinenko and senior Ashley Beck had no trouble navigating the ball through to Craft, senior Stacy Godwin and Nesterenko downcourt. But as the game wore on, overhead passing and impatience with the ball forced unnecessary turnovers in favor of the Troubadours, stifling Ponderosa’s offensive efforts.
Beck, who finished with four points, found ways to sneak productivity into the chaos — picking her battles en route to five steals while remaining selective in the half-court in passing her way to six assists. Junior Sophia George worked hard to earn her team-high nine rebounds on both ends of the court, and finished with two steals to go along with six points but Ponderosa’s struggle to box out on shots gave St. Francis a dozen second-chance points and putback opportunities throughout the night.
St. Francis had a slim three-point lead at half, extending it to five at the end of three quarters and finally seven at the final buzzer.
“Before this game we worked on our press break, our ball control and rebounding. Usually the press break is one of our strengths this year. We pass well, get it downcourt quickly; score points and win games that way. Tonight, not at all,” O’Donnell said. “I can definitely tell you the first thing we’re going to work on at practice will be our ball control and rebounding.”