By Stephanie Hammon
ANTIOCH -- In the championship game of the West Coast Jamboree's Platinum Division, the Carondelet High basketball team ran into a Chaminade-West Hills squad that was bigger, deeper and not flustered by the Cougars' full-court pressure defense.
The Cougars could never fully recover from a big third quarter run by Chaminade and lost 81-71 on Monday at Deer Valley High. It marked the third straight year that an East Bay team has lost to a Los Angeles area squad in the Platinum Division finals.
"Chaminade handled our press very well and scored in transition," Carondelet coach Margaret Gartner said. "We had to be able to board better. We struggled with rebounds the whole game."
Despite the matchup problems it faced, Carondelet (8-2) kept Chaminade (14-1) on edge until the very end.
Natalie Romeo tried to single-handedly rally the Cougars back from an 18-point deficit. The junior point guard scored 17 of her 26 points in the fourth quarter, getting the Cougars within 78-71 with 45 seconds left by sinking a 3-pointer.
Romeo, who also finished with 10 rebounds and four steals, was just off-target on a couple other 3-point tries in the final minute, and Chaminade held on to win the championship in its first year at the event.
Romeo scored 98 points in four games at the Jamboree and was named MVP of the second place team.
"She makes everything work for us," Gartner said of Romeo.
Carondelet's Makenzie Cast (14 points) was honored with the Jim Capoot Memorial award for her sportsmanship and inspirational play while teammates Amy Harioka and Lauren Nicolosi were also all-tournament picks.
Chaminade controlled the boards and dominated inside, getting particularly strong efforts off the bench from 6-foot-3 Devin Stanback and 6-foot freshman Valerie Higgins. The duo combined for 22 points and 23 rebounds.
They complemented UC Santa Barbara-bound forward Mi'Chael Wright, who was named the Platinum Division's MVP after a 22-point, 12-rebound performance. Wright helped the Eagles go on a 15-2 run that closed the third quarter and put Carondelet in a deep hole.
In the third place game, Sacramento High beat Berkeley 65-57. The Yellowjackets led much of the game, but Sacramento scored on a putback at the buzzer to force overtime. The Dragons then outscored Berkeley 12-4 in the extra period.