The 11th-ranked South County High School girls basketball team defeated Yorktown High School 52-31 Saturday to take home first place in the 2019 Rock Ridge/Briar Woods Holiday Hoops girls basketball tournament. The Stallions were led by a dominant performance from athletic center and Anderson University commit, senior Nelliah Wilson, as she posted a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Junior guard Gabriella San Diego also put on a passing clinic as she contributed eight assists for the Stallions. Amherst college commit and senior point guard Maggie Shipley led the Patriots efforts with 14 points.
The Stallions overcame Wakefield 45-39 and also topped Briar Woods 63-52 en route to the tournament final against Yorktown.
“This tournament has been fantastic, it’s been a great proving ground for us,” South County girls basketball head coach Aseem Rastogi said. “A lot of credit goes out to the teams we played, they gave us a battle every single night. In our area you’re gonna face great teams. So for our kids we don’t really worry about what’s on the scoreboard, we worry about what are we gonna do to get better.”
Right from tip-off the game was physical and fast-paced, as both teams sought to make an early statement. The Stallions scored first, thanks to a three-pointer from junior guard Keagan Schwab off a pass from San Diego. The Patriots then quickly responded with a basket from freshman power forward Ana Bournigal.
On the Patriots’ next offensive possession Shipley began to find her rhythm as she sunk a three-pointer to give Yorktown the lead. Shipley’s scoring ability and tendency to stretch the floor helped the Patriots take an 11-3 lead, but the Stallions cut the lead to 11-6 at the end of the first quarter.
The pace of the game began to shift at the start of the second quarter as San Diego began to control the tempo for the Stallions (10-1). She accounted for four points and two assists during a 12-0 run to start the frame. Shipley attempted to take over again for the Patriots, but she was held to three points for the remainder of the half as South County forced her to take contested shots. The loss of senior guard Liz Shean–who suffered a season ending injury during the week of Dec. 17–was evident as Yorktown endured multiple offensive droughts. The Stallions entered the halftime with a 24-16 lead over Yorktown.
At the start of the third quarter it appeared as if Yorktown (8-4) was beginning to comeback as it began the second half on a 7-2 run. However Wilson helped the Stallions close out the Patriots by scoring eight of her 14 points in the third quarter. Near the end of the third quarter Wilson stole the ball at half court and promptly dribbled behind her back to dodge a Yorktown defender on her way to the hoop, which sent the crowd to its feet and her teammates swarming her with praise.
Coach Rastogi mentioned that he didn’t make any major adjustments at halftime, but he did remind his team about playing their game and giving attention to the details.
“It’s really more about the kids believing in the details, which has been our theme for this week–handling the details.”
South County’s third quarter surge led by Wilson proved to be too much for Yorktown as the Stallions would cruise to victory.
“Our whole thing from top to bottom in our program is we do everything together,” Rastogi said. “Our principle’s vision is about family and we try to embrace that and build upon that as much as we can. When our kids start to believe in that stuff that’s when we’re really good.”