Cardinal Newman’s belated daughters’ rally comes to a halt

Cardinal Newman coach Monica Mertle with her players in a huddle during the final minutes of their NorCal playoff game against Palo Alto in Santa Rosa on Tuesday, March 1, 2022. (Erik Castro / for The Press Democrat)

The Cardinal Newman women’s basketball season ended Thursday night after a furious late-game rally fell short in a 50-46 loss to St. Mary’s of Stockton in the second round of the Division I playoffs. of CIF NorCal.

Visiting seventh-seeded Cardinal Newman trailed the second-seeded Rams by 13 points with five minutes left, but gave up to shoot within two points with 46 seconds left.

However, the Cardinals (23-6) were unable to get the equalizer in the last minute as St. Mary’s (21-7) had late possession bolstered by a controversial foul on the Cardinals, resulting in the last seconds. to be dirty.

“It was a battle, it was a good game. St. Mary’s is a program that we fight with year after year,” Cardinal Newman coach Monica Mertle said. shot the ball tonight. We had a lot of good looks. We were totally capable of winning the game tonight, but we just didn’t.

The underdog Cardinals held a 20-18 halftime lead against the Rams, but a disastrous third quarter was Cardinal Newman’s ultimate loss. St. Mary’s overtook Cardinal Newman in points in the third, 24-12, putting the Rams up 42-32 early in the fourth quarter.

“St. Mary is hot in the third quarter. They touched everything. They’re a very talented team,” Mertle said. “We came out a bit flat in the third quarter.”

Cardinal Newman was led by guards Reese Searcy (21 points, 8 rebounds) and Julia Brunetti (16 rebounds).

St. Mary’s was beaten by Jordan Lee (15 points) and Brooklyn Perry (13 points).

Searcy and teammate Ari Johnson are the only seniors on the team and played their final game in a Cardinals uniform.

“I’m really proud of our two seniors,” Mertle said. “They helped our youth connect with the standards of our program.”

Cardinal Newman won the three-point battle 5-4, but it was the lowest production of the season behind the arc for the Cardinals.

“It was a non-shooting night for us,” Mertle said.

On the positive side, Mertle said the Cardinals’ offense effectively dealt with St. Mary’s defensive traps and pressures.

Cardinal Newman beat No. 10 Palo Alto 58-46 at home on Tuesday in the first round of the tournament.

Last week, Cardinal Newman lost a first-round game in the North Coast Section’s ultra-competitive Open Division, suffering an upset 58-54 loss to Oakland’s Bishop O’Dowd. The Cardinals won their consolation match against Heritage of Brentwood, 68-50, to finish fifth in the NCS Open bracket. In the regular season, the Cardinals won the North Bay League-Oak with an unblemished 10-0 record.

Playoff experience will pay dividends next season for Cardinal Newman’s returning players, Mertle said.

“I’m excited. We have a good group of youngsters,” Mertle said. “This experience is going to make them better.”

Even though the Cardinals didn’t make it past the second round of the CIF NorCal tournament or win their NCS division, Mertle said the season was a success.

“They’re probably one of the most fun teams I’ve ever coached. They got better every day,” Mertle said. “I’m really proud of this group.