GALT — Central Catholic girls basketball coach Alison Nichols never stopped coaching during Wednesday’s 73-32 blowout loss to Brookside Christian (Stockton) in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division 3 semifinals.
She couldn’t, because her players never stopped playing.
“They play hard, and with heart, no matter what the score is,” said Nichols, whose fifth-seeded Raiders (17-10) now wait for the start of the Northern California regional tournament before their season can continue. “As long as they do that, I have to coach the same way.”
Brookside Christian (25-4), which will play either Ripon Christian or Capital Christian for the D5 title on Friday at 4 p.m. at Sleep Train Arena in Sacramento, ended the Raiders’ season in 2013 with a 110-24 drubbing.
“I think we’re on the upside,” said Nichols. “This is the farthest the girls program has ever gone.”
The Raiders might have gone even farther if last season’s Western Athletic Conference MVP Margaret Gallo (24 points per game) had been with them. The senior, who suffered an ACL injury in the summer that was not diagnosed until December, according to Nichols, was averaging 16 points and eight rebounds this season when she decided to shut it down for the season. Her contributions would’ve made a big difference in this game. Probably not a 40-point difference, but then again, if Gallo were on the floor, she would’ve been a steadying influence on a young team that fell behind 17-2 in the opening minutes.
“There were definitely some nerves,” said Nichols, who starts three freshmen. “We were a little nervous, and this was a big game.
Freshman Danielle Friedrich, who led the Raiders with 18 points and ranks third in the state among freshman scorers (19.7 ppg), thinks this will be a learning experience for CC.
“We try to take something out of every game, whether it’s as an individual or as a team” said Friedrich. “I think we are (a team on the rise). Yes.”