By Eric Terrazas, Staff Writer
SANTA FE SPRINGS – A strong second-half defensive effort helped lift St. Paul High School to an impressive 63-36 victory over Exeter in Wednesday’s first-round game of the CIF State Division 4 Girls Basketball Championships.
After a tightly contested first half, the host Swordsmen held the Monarchs to only 12 points in the second half. A sharp-shooting offense also boosted St. Paul, which scored 32 points after the intermission.
The senior duo of forward Cassidy Carrillo and guard Priscilla Hidalgo paced the Swordsmen offense with 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Camino Real League champion and fifth-seeded Swordsmen (20-12), who were the runners-up in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4A tournament, advanced to a Saturday second-round game against either Serra or Mater Dei.
“It’s nice to see us shoot the ball well in the second half, and not have a bad shooting night like we did last week,” St. Paul coach Robert Miller said. “I thought the team played well. We’re just happy to be in the state playoffs.”
Exeter, which was the No. 12 seed and is located near Visalia, made it to the CIF-Central Section Division 4 semifinals where it lost to eventual champion Lindsay, 63-48. The Monarchs finished 18-12.
St. Paul, holding a 31-24 halftime lead, took control by outscoring Exeter 19-6 in the third quarter.
Alisa Bueno’s three-point bucket jump-started the Swordsmen, giving them a 40-28 advantage. St. Paul went to finish the quarter in impressive fashion, scoring 10 of the next 12 points.
Amber Atkinison, Jacqueline Hutcheson and Katelyn Lopez each scored eight points to lead Exeter.
Cantwell Sacred Heart 56, Lindsay 40
The visiting Cardinals (19-10) were led by Priscilla Rodriguez, who scored 13 points in Wednesday’s first-round game of the CIF State Division 4 playoffs.
Cantwell advanced to a Saturday second-round game at Camino Real League foe St. Monica, which is tournament’s No. 2 seed. It will mark the fourth meeting of the season between the two teams. St. Monica has won all three previous meetings, including a semifinal win in the CIF-SS Division 4A tournament.
Army/Navy Academy 62, Cantwell Sacred Heart 49
The Camino Real League Cardinals saw their season end in Wednesday’s first-round game of the CIF State Division 4 playoffs. Jose Estrada scored 23 points to lead the Cardinals, who finished 20-10.