SALIDA — Lexi Tubbs admitted that she was expecting something resembling a Trans-Valley League game Friday night.
For the first quarter, however, Soquel versus Modesto Christian looked exactly like what was printed on the program – a CIF Northern California girls basketball regional quarterfinal.
But for the final 24 minutes of action, it did look like your typical TVL blowout, as the Crusaders cruised to a 62-42 victory and into Tuesday’s semifinal round against Vanden (Fairfield).
“Yeah, they really did,” said Tubbs, when asked if Soquel surprised them in the early stages. “We heard they played a lot of zone defense and that they had a small guard on the bottom, which would allow us to post up.
“I’m glad they came out hot in the beginning rather than surprising us in the end.”
The Knights came out firing and built an 11-6 lead, thanks to 3-pointers from Makenna Provancha and Natalie Diaz (20 points), who also had an old-fashioned 3-pointer – a bucket and a foul shot – during the surge.
“I think we kind of surprised them” said first-year coach Kanani Thomas, a 2006 graduate of Soquel High School. “They probably thought, ‘We’re actually going to have to play basketball tonight.’ ”
And, naturally, the Crusaders did.
After moving out to a slim 18-17 lead after the first quarter, Modesto Christian (24-8) scored the first six points of the second quarter to make it 24-17. After Diaz stopped the bleeding with a basket to get the Knights within five, MC closed the half on a 10-2 run and Soquel was never within single digits again.
“At the beginning of the game, every open shot that they had, they hit,” Modesto Christian coach Robb Spencer said. “Our plan was to grind them down with our defense.”
In addition to the defensive pressure, the Crusaders dominated the boards, getting a number of second and third chances while limiting the Knights’ second-shot opportunities. Tubbs led MC with 19 points and joined in double figures by Stephanie Moore (12) and Meagan Warwick (10).
Modesto Christian is very familiar its next opponent, No. 6 Vanden (25-6), a 58-54 winner over Encinal (Alameda) on Saturday.
As a member of the Sac-Joaquin Section, the Vikings not only run in the same circles as the Crusaders, they eliminated them from the section tournament last season with a 66-50 semifinal victory.
So, is this a matchup to which the Crusaders have been looking forward?
“Bad,” said Tubbs, who led Modesto Christian with 19 points. “Yeah, definitely.”
Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. on Tuesday at the MC gymnasium.