Old foe now stands between Mill Valley girls basketball and state
After losing in the first round of sub-state last year, the Mill Valley girls basketball team wanted to leave no doubt that a similar result could not occur in 2012.
In fact, the 61-18 victory against Turner looked comparable to many of the Jaguars’ recent performances.
The formula’s been a simple one for Mill Valley during this 18-game winning streak: knock down open shots and play consistent defense.
“We played defense, there were a few breakdowns, but overall we were pretty solid,” Mill Valley coach John McFall said. “But we had wide open shots and we did a pretty good job of nailing them.”
The player knocking down most of those shots was junior Tanner Tripp who hit her first four 3-point attempts in the first quarter.
The past few weeks, Tripp struggled for steadiness on the offensive end because of suffocating defense by opponents and just not being able to find a rhythm within the Jaguars.
Tripp moved out of her funk by going 6-of-9 from behind the arc and finishing the game with 22 points, which all came in the first half.
“It felt good, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Tripp said. “They get me open all the time, but I’ve been working on it a lot at practice. There was something off about my shot, but it was good to see it falling again.”
Tripp’s been the team’s go-to shooter for most of the season, but her offensive game extends much further than just long-range jumpers.
“She’s a very good shooter and she has nights when she struggles and she attracts a lot of attention, but she’s a good ball player,” McFall said. “But she doesn’t shoot, it she takes it to the hole also.”
Some other players contributing to the mix for the Jaguars (18-3) included starters juniors Stephanie Lichtenauer (eight points), Mackenzie Conklin (seven points) and MacKenzie Koch (seven points). Although it was a balanced offensive attack, the Jaguars take the most pride in their defense.
In three games versus Turner this year, the team has surrendered only 47 points.
“We just hang our hat on our defense like coach says,” Tripp said.
Putting together both sides of the ball have been the key for Mill Valley, and it starts with constant attention to detail during training for opponents.
“Our scouting reports are very thorough,” McFall said. “We’re very through on everybody that we scout and I think that’s again why we’re consistent because we prepare the same way.”
Now the only game standing in Jaguars way of making their first appearance in the state tournament in school history is an old foe, St. Thomas Aquinas.
The Saints (14-8) have been to 17 consecutive state tournaments. For the Jaguars, it’s the ideal matchup to prove if they are ready to make the next step for the program.
“We want to play the best. I guarantee you we’ll show up and go after it and that’s all you can ever ask of them,” McFall said.