If there was ever a way for a superstar player to "quietly” score 28 points in a game, San Mateo head coach Nancy Dinges said her guard Alana Simon has masterd the art.
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Ofa Tuipulotu puts up a shot in San Mateo's 15-point win over rival Hillsdale.
"It’s funny,” Dinges said. "A lot of it is, she makes the shots when we need them. Alana is one of the quickest, most athletic players I’ve ever seen. And no one can stop that.”
The Bearcats took another step toward putting an ugly non-league run behind them Friday night by comfortably defeating Hillsdale High School 48-33. Simon scored 17 points in the first half and then took her foot off the accelerator a bit in the second, tallying only 11 points to finish with a game-high 28.
"I think coming off the win against Mills, we were very confident,” Dinges said. "We had a great practice. The girls came in yesterday focused. We executed our game plan again and we played San Mateo basketball.”
It’s not difficult to define San Mateo basketball. While on offense, the ball is funneled through Simon on every possession, the key to the Bearcats in 2013 will be their defense. In Friday’s win, San Mateo was carried by its defense —especially in the first half.
Consider for a second that the Bearcats turned the ball over 11 times in the first half — seven in the first quarter alone — and still after eight minutes of basketball, San Mateo led 12-3. Hillsdale shot 1 of 9 from the floor in the first quarter which didn’t help. In fact, for the half, Simon alone knocked down more shots (seven) than the Knights as a whole (five).
"We kind of reverted back to the preseason offensively,” Dinges said of her team’s sloppy start to the game. "When I called that timeout I told them, ‘We need to play San Mateo basketball.’ I know our offense comes from our defense and we stepped up defensively. We did have way too many turnovers but I think they stepped it up in the second quarter and took care of the basketball better.”
That’s because the basketball stayed with Simon the majority of the time. No. 22 scored 11 of her points in the second quarter.
San Mateo pulled away in the third quarter by sticking with Simon. This time, instead of letting her penetrate off the dribble, San Mateo ran No. 22 off of screens and turned her loose down the baseline where Hillsdale had a terrible time keeping up with her. Simon added nine points in the third frame.
And when Hillsdale did shut her down, other players stepped up for San Mateo — most notably Teresa Lee, who scored six big points off the bench.
"Other players are stepping up,” Dinges said. "Alana is seeing that and distributing the ball.”
The Hillsdale defense held San Mateo to only six points in the fourth quarter. But the deficit at the end of three quarters (18) was far too large for the Knights to overcome.
Bella Mercado led Hillsdale in scoring with nine points.