SAN JOSE — First-time visitors to the gymnasium at Archbishop Mitty High School might be a little bit star-struck after they enter the building. The ceiling has more championship banners than the old Boston Garden and one end of the gym has giant posters of several school legends such as Aaron Gordon and Kerri Walsh-Jennings.
Members of the Capuchino girls basketball might have been slightly in awe of their surroundings as well Friday at the start of its Central Coast Section Open Division playoff game with the host Monarchs. But once they started to settle in, at least to some degree, the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Mitty scored the first 17 points in less than four minutes and never looked back in an 80-29 win in the first round of the Open Division playoffs
Senior forward Olivia Williams scored 11 points in the first quarter and finished with 17 in limited minutes as the Monarchs won their 16th straight CCS Open Division playoff game and advanced to Wednesday’s semifinals.
Mitty, which has won five straight section championships, will host either Priory or Valley Christian in the semifinals on Wednesday.
“I thought we strung together a really good defensive game plan,” Mitty coach Sue Phillips said. “Holding a team like that to 29 points is really a nice job defensively.”
Capuchino had averaged over 76 points per game this season as it went 10-0 in the Peninsula Athletic League. But without having played a team like Mitty, with its size and speed, the Mustangs were simply overwhelmed in the early going. They didn’t score until there was 3:40 left in the first quarter trailed 27-4 after the first eight minutes.
Capuchino adjusted to some degree to Mitty’s defense later in the first half and was only outscored 12-7 in the second quarter, managing to find a few open looks that it just couldn’t convert.
“I think we settled in and started to believe a little bit,” Mustangs coach Steve Hoff said. “But you can’t practice that pressure, you can’t practice that size. And it’s tough to come into this gym. We’ve never played a team at this level.”
Junior forward Melesungu Afeaki 10 points and junior guard Arianna Jordan added eight for the Mustangs, who were 14-12 last year. The Mustangs have three seniors, Jaisa Gamble, Crystle Gumban, and Bailey O’Mahoney.
“For Capuchino, a small Division 3 school in San Bruno, I took 10 San Bruno kids and we made it to the Open Division,” Hoff said. “I’ve got no problems taking the loss. I was excited that we just were here.”
Mitty is not satisfied and might be even hungrier to compete this year after it was denied a chance to play in the CIF Open Division state championship game in March of 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Monarchs were supposed to play La Jolla Country Day in a matchup of girls basketball titans.
“We even talked about it at shootaround before the game how grateful and blessed we are to still be playing basketball,” Phillips said, “and to have these seniors finish the race and send them off in style, and just try to keep winning the very next game.”