Aptos High junior Berkeley Ashby scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter against Del Mar High in the teams' Central Coast Section Division III girls basketball quarterfinals at Aptos High School on Tuesday, Feb. 20. (Raul Ebio/The Pajaronian)

Aptos High junior Berkeley Ashby struggled to get into rhythm on the court during their Central Coast Section postseason opener against visiting Del Mar High on Tuesday night.  

It took longer than she had hoped but she eventually found a groove and it came at a crucial moment.

Ashby scored seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter to help lift the No. 3 seed Mariners in a 52-40 victory over No. 11 Del Mar High in the Division III quarterfinals on Feb. 20.

“[Del Mar] just came from two CCS wins, so they were kind of on fire even though it was an away game,” Ashby said. 

Ashby also finished with a team-best 12 rebounds to go along with four assists, two steals and two blocks for Aptos, which buckled down on defense in the second half.

With the win, the Mariners advance into the semifinals against No. 2 Mills High (17-7) of Millbrae. And despite being the lower seed, Aptos got to host Thursday night’s game. Game results were not available prior to this publication’s deadline.

And despite being the lower seed, Aptos gets to host Thursday night’s game. Tipoff is slated for 5:30pm. 

Aptos kept it close in the beginning and trailed just 9-8 at the end of the first stanza. Laurel Southall broke a scoring drought by sinking a 3-pointer and freshman Gabby Wickham followed up with a jump shot that made it 14-13. 

Southall sank another long bomb for the Mariners who went a 10-0 run and a 27-23 going into halftime. 

The Mariners bounced back in the second quarter led by the stellar play of Wickham, who finished with a game-best 27 points to go along with six rebounds and two assists.

Aptos made some defensive changes by double teaming Del Mar sophomore center Zoe Hinkle and attempting to take her out of the game. She was a double-double machine with an average of 16.0 points and 13.3 rebounds per game this season.

Ashby said the game plan was to put two bodies on Hinkle, but they also had to be aware of leaving guards Arseama Kibrom and Moana Tulua open on the outside.

Hinkle still managed to put up 17 points and snatched 21 rebounds, while Kibrom had eight points and Tulua added nine for the Dons.

Both teams were not consistent in the first half as players rushed shots and missed some wide open ones. 

It was also a matter of time before Hinkle started taking over inside the paint, giving the Dons a 33-30 lead with 2:11 remaining in the third quarter.

“We started out a little rough, we weren’t really locked in,” Ashby said. “We stuck with them in the second half and got a pretty big lead by the end. When we went into the third quarter, everything just clicked in.”

A frightening moment occurred in the third quarter when Aptos sophomore Abby Sherwood went down with a right ankle injury. She hopped off the court on one foot and attempted to return, but she was ruled out and Lillian McGee was the next woman up.

That’s when her teammates stepped it up with some lockdown defense to start the fourth. The Mariners went on another 10-0 run to take a commanding 47-35 lead, while the defense allowed just five points in the final stanza.

Southall made back-to-back shots to seal the deal and catapult Aptos into Thursday night’s semifinals against Mills. Southall had 11 points and McGee added two points.

“We made it so they couldn’t shoot the ball, so they had to pass and they made mistakes from it,” Ashby said. “That really helped our game, really helped our offense moving and get motivation.” 

Aptos was riding a three game win streak going into the CCS playoffs, including a big-time victory over league rival Santa Cruz in the end-of-the-season Santa Cruz Coast Athletic League Tournament on Feb. 10.

The Mariners will attempt to keep the streak alive against Mills, which won in the teams’ first meeting during the Aptos High/Santa Cruz Warriors Shootout on Dec. 30.

“With the motivation and the defense, and just the push that we’ve been having lately, I think that we’re going to go in strong minded,” Ashby said. 

Division IV

At Half Moon Bay 60, Scotts Valley 37: The No. 7 seed Falcons were eliminated from the postseason following a loss to the No. 2 Cougars in the D-IV quarterfinals on Feb. 20. Scotts Valley finished with a 12-16 overall record this season.

At Menlo 60, Monte Vista Christian 20: The No. 8 seed Mustangs fell to the top seed Knights in the D-IV quarterfinals Feb. 20. MVC finished with a 15-11 overall record this season. 

Division V

At St. Francis 48, Notre Dame (Salinas) 44: Emily Raich and Maya Calfee each had 14 points for the No. 3 seed Sharks in a D-V quarterfinals win over the No. 6 Spirits on Feb. 20. 

Calfee also had nine rebounds, two assists and two steals, while Peyton Orradre had a team-best 11 rebounds for St. Francis. 

Fellow teammate Aaliysah Gomez contributed 13 points to go along with five rebounds, six steals and a pair of assists, and Nevaeh Litel added five points and hauled in six rebounds.

Next up, the Sharks (22-2) play No. 2 Summit Shasta (21-4) at MacDonald High School in San Jose on Thursday at 5:30pm.

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A Watsonville native who has a passion for local sports and loves his community. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College, San Jose State University and UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Cabrillo College athletics, various youth sports in the Pajaro Valley and the Santa Cruz Warriors. Juan is also a video game enthusiast, part-time chef (at home), explorer and a sports junkie. Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to report scores HERE.


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