GILROY -- The Presentation basketball team has taken some lumps this season. Such is life in the West Catholic Athletic League. Now the Panthers are one game away from a Central Coast Section Division II girls basketball championship.
The top-seeded Panthers withstood a late Mountain View rally and held on for a 58-51 victory Tuesday at Christopher High. Presentation (12-15) will play Woodside on Friday at Santa Clara High for the Division II title.
"We are battle tested,'' P)resentation coach Wade Nakamura said. "Now we have an opportunity to win a championship.''
Mountain View rallied from 13 down to pull to within 49-48 with 2:09 left. The Spartans had multiple chances to take the lead but were unable to convert.
Presentation, which ran at every opportunity, responded with fast-break baskets by Akilah Jennings and Jeanelle Schneider and two free throws by Courtney Danna, who led all scorers with 16 points.
"Luckily the ball bounced our way," Nakamura said. "Mountain View played extremely tough. They came out with nothing to lose and made some tough shots. They missed a couple at the end. Fatigue may have been a factor. That's where our depth comes into play, where all the tough games in the WCAL come into play."
Mountain View (24-3) scored the first seven points of the game before Presentation came back with a rush, scoring the next 15. The Panthers led 25-18 at halftime and went on a 7-1 run to start the third quarter, and it looked as though a blowout might be in the making. But Mountain View, with Jayme Hughes scoring 15 and Karen Kauffman 13, had other ideas.
"We hung in there," Mountain View coach Judy Auclair said. "We didn't play the strongest teams, but we're 24-3. Next season we'll be moving up to the De Anza Division (of the SCVAL). Hopefully this game will help us take that next step. Hopefully next year we'll be back."
Woodside 50, Westmoor 40: Just last week, Woodside fell to Westmoor 48-36 in the Peninsula Athletic League tournament semifinals. Woodside coach Hayley Grossman said the mental aspect made the difference this time.
"What killed us the first time was a lot of negativity," Grossman said. "As soon as we got down, we got frustrated. This time I told them no matter how much we get down, even if it's 100-0, we're going to stay positive."
Her team took the words to heart. Westmoor, forcing turnovers with its quickness, led 14-7 after one quarter. But Woodside (24-5) fought back to draw even at halftime, 20-20. And that was with Madison Michelis, Woodside's leading scorer at 18 points per game, blanked in the first half.
But Michelis broke out in the second half with 12 points and led Woodside's domination of the boards -- the much bigger Wildcats started getting three or four shots per possession.
Makaela Kitaura came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points. Sharnon Lionel scored 11 points and did a nice job of coming up with rebounds and loose balls.
Yazmeen Goo led Westmoor (21-8) with 22 points, but she didn't get much help from teammates.
"We played a lot better offensively the first time we played Woodside," Westmoor coach Mike Keough said. "We got a little flustered today."