The Santa Ynez Pirates and Nipomo Titans started their girls basketball game in a tight battle Tuesday night at Nipomo High School.
But once the Titans (2-0) found their sea-legs, they cruised to a 76-37 non-league victory.
The Pirates’ Marlies Cortez swatted the game-opening tip to Lita Wright who drove in for a quick layup.
After Nipomo’s Kat Anderson sank one foul shot, Cortez hit a medium jumper to put the Pirates up 4-1.
Nipomo’s Clarissa Simonson pushed the ball up court and drove straight in for a layup but the Pirates Mollie Kadlec followed with a layup of her own to give Santa Ynez an early 6-3 lead.
Nipomo’s Madelyn Witcher then drove the lane to two, cutting the Pirates’ lead to 6-5.
That’s when Nipomo head coach David Mendez switched to man-to-man defense — a stifling, in-your-face, hands everywhere defense that completely shut down the Santa Ynez squad.
“After that, our transitioning was outstanding,” said Mendez. “All the girls were in sync up and down the court. Offensively, we just flowed. Everybody contributed, we just outhustled them.”
Witcher’s basket began a 12-0 Nipomo run; Leah Miller hit two free throws, Shantille Simonson drove in for two straight layups, Janna Slover drove the lane for two more; and Miller finished off a fast break to put Nipomo up 15-6.
Santa Ynez fought back on a Kaya Whitesides 3-pointer and then Lita Wright hit one-of-two free throws to pull the Pirates to 15-10.
Nipomo’s Shantille Simonson drained two free throws and Santa Ynez’s Madison Holbrook grabbed a rebound and put it back and the quarter ended with Nipomo leading 16-12.
The Pirates kept it close in the second quarter, down four at 20-16 in the first two minutes but they were held to just one Nayeli Torres free throw the rest of the quarter while the Titans outscored them 11-1, taking a 30-17 lead into the half.
The Titans put the game on ice early in the third quarter, going on a 12-0 run to begin the second half and then outscoring the Pirates 15-4 the rest of the way to go up 57-21 at the end of three.
Mendez relaxed his defense in the final frame, going to a half-court man.
The Pirates rallied a bit at the start of the quarter but they could never get closer than 18 points.
Wright scored 10 points to lead the Pirates.
“Santa Ynez is a talented team,” said Mendez. “We want to play good teams like Santa Ynez to get us ready for league play down the road.
Every one of Nipomo’s nine players scored with three Titans hitting double figures; Abbey Gutierrez with 19, freshman Kacie Slover with 14 and Leah Miller with 12.
“We have a young team but most of these girls have played together since the third or fourth grade,” said Mendez. “They just played hard-nosed, full court, in-your face defense.”
Santa Ynez 65, Nipomo 59
The Pirates and Titans battled all the way before Santa Ynez pulled out the non-league victory at Santa Ynez High.
Merek Mercado led the Pirates with 23 points, seven rebounds and five steals.
Ryan Rennick added 16 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Santa Ynez.
“And freshman Ryan Devitt came in and scored seven crucial points, all in the second half,” said head coach Ray Vazquez.
The game was tied 13-all at the end of the first quarter.
Santa Ynez held a slim 30-28 lead at the half.
“They went up by seven in the third quarter so I called time out. I wasn’t sure which way the game was going to go,” said Vazquez. “I told the boys you can’t win the game on one possession and to take it one possession at a time. I told the boys to trust each other and we got a couple back-door looks and got back in the game. We caught up at the end of the third and went on to get the win.
Santa Ynez (1-1) is suddenly very familiar with its next opponent – they face Nipomo again Thursday night in the opening game of the Morro Bay Tournament.
Santa Ynez 2, Nipomo 0
Santa Ynez (1-0) was the more aggressive team from the game’s opening with much of the game played on Nipomo’s side of the pitch but the Pirates were able to break through for just two goals, both in the first half on a chilly night in Nipomo in the Pirates’ season-opener.
Heather Rennie got the Pirates’ first goal in the 32nd minute off an Amelia Villa assist.
Jazz Feeley added an insurance goal in the 38th minute off Rennie’s assist.
“It was our first game and we had quite a few players out,” said Santa Ynez head coach Rob Cantrell. “We played 80 percent of the game on their side of the field. We had our chances but were only able to score twice. Nipomo had a good counter attack but our defense was tenacious and our girls played good ball.”
Brookelyn Fletcher and Xiomara Mejia each played one half in goal with each recording one save.
Nipomo is home for its next match Thursday against Nordhoff.
Santa Ynez 1, Nipomo 0
Three of their shots hit the post, but the Pirates (1-1) came away with a non-league win over the Titans thanks to an unassisted Luis Gonzalez goal in the 25th minute at Santa Ynez.