NAPA — Eight minutes and two points.
That's the nightmare of a second quarter Modesto Christian High's girls basketball team will be forced to recall when it analyzes how its season ended Thursday night.
"We don't come out playing strong in the first half, and (coach Robb Spencer) said it would come back to haunt us," point guard Brandi Henton said. "He was right — it cost us."
The Crusaders scored just 10 points in the first half and trailed by 21 in the second half before rallying to make it a respectable 60-48 loss to Justin-Siena in the Northern California Division IV semifinals.
There was nothing respectable, though, about MC's first half. It shot 4 for 22 from the floor — including 1 for 10 in the second period — and committed 14 turnovers.
Not that Justin-Siena (29-3), CalHiSports.com's No. 3 in the state rankings and the top seed, needed any help. The Braves not only had a size advantage with four players at 5 feet 10 inches or taller, they also had the best player in 6-foot Vicky Deely.
The UC Davis-bound center dominated on both ends, scoring 32 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and flexing her muscles on the defensive end to intimidate MC.
Deely hit two 3-pointers, forcing MC to defend her on the perimeter, then twice drove past the defender for a layup. She was at her best, though, on the baseline.
She used a spin off the low block to get clear looks at the basket, taking the ball in one hand and sweeping the other to create space between her and a defender.
"I've been in the post my whole life, and I enjoy the physical play around the basket," said Deely, whose 17-point first half helped Justin-Siena to a 29-10 halftime lead. "I don't think Modesto Christian was ready for our combination of speed and size."
Trying to get the ball inside to 5-10 Taryn Garza and 6-footers Jessica Graham and Lauren Lucchesi, MC repeatedly turned it over, as Justin-Siena's long-armed defense snared passes that were slow and errant.
"We hadn't seen a team like this, so tall and so quick," Henton said. "We screwed up the whole first half, then we finally started playing, but it was just too late."
MC trailed 52-35 before Henton and Stefani Agostini began hitting their shots.
Agostini hit a 3-pointer from 22 feet, and Henton converted a steal into a layup to make it 52-40 with 3:30 left. Agostini hit again a minute later to make it 54-43, then Justin-Siena gave MC an opportunity to exploit.
Justin-Siena received a technical foul for complaining after the three referees twice reversed themselves on a charging foul, but Agostini missed both free throws and MC threw away the ball. What could have been a four-point play produced nothing.