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Morgan Hill
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September 26, 2022

Christopher’s strong defense, tempo take down Sobrato, advance in CCS playoffs

Christopher used a strong defensive first quarter to sprint past Sobrato in the first round of the DII Girls CCS Playoffs, 48-37.
The Cougars (12-12) rode 16-point efforts form Cydney Caradonna and Christa Arroyo to advance to take on No. 5 Los Gatos 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the second round.
Sobrato (15-10) concluded a resurgent season that saw the Bulldogs win a West Valley Division title and make its first CCS appearance since 2009.
Christopher, however, flexed its experience muscle, having gone to the playoffs the last two years.
“It was a great time win. I think everyone stepped up and did a phenomenal job off the bench and took care of the minutes they got,” said Cougar Coach Heather Stewart. “I really feel like this is the best team win that we had of everyone just stepping up and playing their role and doing what they needed to do.”
Christopher had to battle to get into the playoffs, having to win its final game of the regular season to qualify.
The result was a battle-hardened team that came out of the blocks fast.
Coming out of the blocks, Christopher made a point to eliminate Sobrato’s strengths, mainly its post game.
“We really had to focus on taking their post out of the game. She’s a good player. She uses her body well. She’s pretty agile for her size,” Stewart said. “We had to focus defensively on taking her out first, and then knowing the capabilities of the shooters. They have a very strong team, but we like to play an up tempo game.”
Although Hazel Hill finished with 11 points, she never had more than four in any one quarter.
“More or less I think the girls came out here a little bit nervous. It was first time in CCS for all of them and being the sophomores and freshmen that we are, it reflected on against their senior class who were studs,” said coach Erica Wallace. “They have some studs on that team. Their decision making skills and experience outweighed ours.”
Sobrato was also forced to play a tempo it wasn’t comfortable with.
The Cougars utilized a press defense that sped the game up and accounted for 21 turnovers.
Stewart said she wanted to focus on playing defense and said the team held strong to that plan despite letting down a couple of times.
The focus on defense showed at the start of the game, when the Cougars went up 16-4, which included holding the Bulldogs to a single field goal and a pair of free throws. Sobrato turned the ball over eight times and were out rebounded 10-5.
“It really helped us get our motivation kicked in and it helped us play through out our game and start off our game well,” Arroyo said.
Christopher, meanwhile, had six points out of Melanie Tanaka and Caradonna.
Sobrato came to life in the second quarter, putting up 15 points, but a 3-pointer from Arroyo and two from Caradonna pushed the Cougars to a 31-19 lead at halftime.
“Christa, especially, as a sophomore, being able to step up and step into that role during the playoffs, it was a big night for her,” Stewart said. “Cydney is capable of that night in and night out, it makes the job easier for her when she has someone else step up.”
She also gave credit to Dejah Raoof and Ally Foster for stepping up on defense and contributing in key moments on offense.
“Ally Foster’s defense in the post position, she just did an phenomenal job. We focused on her all day yesterday in practice,” Steward said. “Ally just did an great job defensively, which allowed us our offensive transition.”
The Bulldogs came out strong from the break, chipping the deficit down to nine early in the quarter thanks to a free throw from Vanessa Gonzalez.
Christopher’s coach Stewart called timeout and challenged her team to pick up the intensity in the quarter.
The result was a trey from Arroyo to bring the lead back to 12 and spark the Cougars on a 12-6 scoring run and taking a 45-29 lead after three quarters.
In the fourth, Christopher worked to slow the game down, but gave Sobrato chances on the other end.
The Bulldogs weren’t able to convert, being held to eight points despite holding Christopher to just three.
Gonzalez proved to be the bright spot for the Bulldogs, putting up 17 points with five boards.
“I’ve been waiting for her to own this team and feel confident enough to own this team and recognize when people are taking away our post,” Wallace said. “She turned it up tonight. There was a while tonight I was like, man, all her touches and everything she’s doing was the positives on our team and all coming from one player.”
But after Hill and Gonzalez, the rest of the Sobrato team was held to a combined nine points.
Sobrato now has the off season to get ready for next year that will feature many of the same players as this one, losing just one senior.
Christopher, meanwhile, will get ready for Los Gatos and try to ride the momentum from this game.
The Cougars were already riding high from an emotional senior night win that qualified them for the playoffs.
“I think we rode the momentum into this game. Next game is going to be a different matchup, a different look,” Stewart said. “We played Los Gatos several times, so we know what we’re facing. We haven’t beat them, so it’s definitely a match up to look forward to.”

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