The Cate girls varsity basketball team’s 13-game win streak ended Wednesday night in the quarterfinal game of the CIF-SS Division 4A playoffs. The Rams faced a formidable opponent in Marshall (23-3) from Pasadena. The Eagles played a relentless and swarming defense for the entirety of the game. Their tough defense was combined with potent offense from the interior. While overall Cate struggled to find its offensive rhythm due to Marshall’s flustering defense, the first quarter started out well for the Rams in large part because of the outside shooting of sophomore Meena Baher, who scored 8 of her 17 total points in the initial 8 minutes giving the Rams the lead 10-8.
Cate Girls Varsity Basketball 29–Marshall 50
Picking up their defensive intensity with a full-court press that fell back into a trapping hybrid zone-man matchup defense, Marshall wreaked havoc. The Eagles got numerous deflections and steals and proceeded to go on a 14-0 run that cemented their control of the quarter with a 24-11 lead. Fortunately for the Rams, Baher’s hot shooting from beyond the arc continued as she hit two critical 3’s that cut Marshall’s lead to just 7 with less than 10 seconds left in the quarter. However, in the last seconds of the quarter, Marshall’s Natalie Tomoyasu hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to give the Eagles’ a 10 point lead at the break.
Despite being down 10 at the half, the Rams were hopeful. All season we played our best basketball in the 3rd quarter and we were ready to chip away at Marshall’s lead. Junior Lily Zanze started Cate off to a great third quarter when she stole the ball and took it down the length of the court for a crafty Euro step lay-up cutting Marshall’s lead to 8. Unfortunately, rather than building on that momentum, the Rams struggled to make shots that had fallen for us all season, particularly from inside the paint. This in part was the result of Marshall’s size, quickness, and physicality in the post. Unable to score, Marshall took a 12-2 run to bring the score to 39-23 at the end of the third quarter.
As we had all season, the Rams exhibited resilience, perseverance, and determination until the final buzzer. Baher hit her fifth 3-pointer to start the fourth quarter, which inspired her teammates to keep fighting. The Rams switched to a more aggressive defense, which flustered the Eagles. And, although the Rams played with tremendous heart, our offensive struggles persisted and impaired any chance of a comeback. Marshall maintained control in the fourth quarter with impressive play from Kahlani Banks and solid shooting from their post players.
I am so proud of the effort and level of tenacity that our team demonstrated. Marshall was the more experienced team and played stifling defense. And yet, the Rams never gave up, nor did they hang their heads. This has been one of the most defining and impressive characteristics of this team: when faced with adversity, they refused to dwell on it and instead dug deeper finding remarkable poise. I credit our stellar group of seniors, who modeled this tough, determined, and positive mindset from the start of our season.
Overall, the team had an impressive 13-3 record with our only losses coming in the first week of the season and the quarterfinals of CIF. Undefeated in league, the Rams won a Frontier League title with a margin of victory of 32 points.
I want to express my sincere gratitude to the Cate community. The tremendous support from students, faculty, and families was so heartwarming. This team has worked tirelessly week after week since early November and they were so deserving of the spectacular support that you all showed them. Your support and excitement for our team exemplify why being part of this community is such a gift.
Thank you for the continual support of our team! I’m so grateful!