SRV late rally falls short, lose to St. Mary’s-Stockton in first round of CIF NorCal Open playoffs

SRV late rally falls short, lose to St. Mary’s-Stockton in first round of CIF NorCal Open playoffs

STOCKTON — San Ramon Valley left it all on the floor Tuesday night.

But despite coming back from a 16-point first half deficit, SRV fell just short as the Wolves lost to No. 3 St. Mary’s 67-61 in the first round of the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) NorCal Open Division regional. The loss ended the Wolves’ season as they finished with a 28-3 record.

Sierra Chambers led SRV with 21 points and Sofia Bowes had 19.

Freshman Kori Rogers had a game-high 22 points for St. Mary’s and University of Texas commit Jordan Lee scored 19.

“St. Mary’s has a great coach and is a great basketball team,” said SRV coach John Cristiano. “For us to fight back to within one point and make it a one possession game is a testament to who these kids are. I told them in the locker room after the game, they don’t have to win to be champions. If I were to define a champion, every one of them would be my champion.”

SRV played St. Mary’s earlier this season in a close game in which the Wolves lost 53-48. But SRV has come a long way since then, going 26-1 since the Dec. 1 loss.

St. Mary’s looked like it was going to put the game away early. The Rams started the first quarter on a 15-2 run, thoroughly pushing around the Wolves at any chance they got. The Rams outrebounded SRV 13-4 and forced five turnovers in the first quarter alone as St. Mary’s held a 17-6 lead after the first eight minutes.

But the tide started to turn in SRV’s favor in the middle of the second quarter. Trailing by 10 with under four minutes left in the first half, SRV caught a break when a St. Mary’s player was called for a technical foul. The Wolves made four free throws to cut the lead to six to get within striking distance going into the second half.

The third quarter was defined by Chambers and Bowes’ offensive brilliance. The duo combined for 15 of SRV’s 24 third quarter points to make the score 52-49 going into the fourth quarter.

“I knew if we were going to get back in this game, we had to attack the basket,” Chambers said. “Everybody on the team had to just take it to the basket, finish and draw fouls as much as we can.”

SRV continued its momentum into the fourth quarter. At the 2:50 mark, Bowes scored a layup to make the score 60-59— the closest SRV was to St. Mary’s all game.

But after that point, St. Mary’s best players made plays to take back control of the game.

Lee had three crucial offensive rebounds in the final minute of the game, including a second-chance rebound that she passed to Cassidy Bartolotto who scored a layup to give St. Mary’s a five-point cushion with under 40 seconds left.

The Wolves couldn’t score fast enough in the final minute and the Rams iced the game at the free throw line late.

Despite the loss, the mood around SRV after the game was upbeat.

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“I think tonight was an accomplishment,” Chambers said. “We all live in the same city and we constantly work hard every day just to play at the highest level. It’s such an honor for all of us and it means a lot to me.”

The Wolves accomplished more than most high school basketball teams this season. SRV won the East Bay Athletic League title, went to the North Coast Section championship game and had four players win all-league honors. Despite hid entire starting five graduating this upcoming spring, Cristiano said his seniors have left the program in a good spot for next season.

“The thing I’m proud of from this team has nothing to do with basketball,” Cristiano said. “The thing I’m most proud about is the role models and mentors these players have been to the young players in this program and the kids in this community. It’s their character and integrity that make me the most proud.”