Riding a game high 21-point performance by sophomore Addie Werbelow and a double double from freshman Skyler Pavlovich, the San Dieguito girls basketball team captured its first-ever CIF title, knocking off Castle Park, 55-36, Saturday afternoon in the Division IV title match at San Marcos High School. The Mustangs, seeded No. 5, reached the championship game by downing Monte Vista (47-22) in the opening round, Calipatria (56-39) in the quarterfinals and Valley Center (56-33) in the semis. The victory lifts them to 12-15 on the season.
“This feels beautiful,” said sixth-year Head Coach Aubree Smithey, whose club finished fifth in the rugged Avocado League West race, before moving into the D4 playoffs. “I’ve been preaching all along that this was our ultimate goal and that our league was only going to make us stronger and get us ready.
“We came out and competed at a very high level in all of our playoff games. It all paid off.”
Sophomore starter Jackie Sedlock, echoed some of her coach’s sentiments. “This was not an easy win. We had to work hard,” said Sedlock. “I think the league definitely contributed to our winning today and our success lately.
“We learned what our strengths are and built on those, but playing against those teams also showed us where we were making mistakes and we tried to work on those a little bit harder.”
In a fast-paced, rough-and-tumble affair that saw the two teams combine for 34 fouls and 48 turnovers, it was a dominating second quarter, where SDA outscored the Castle Park, 19-5, that broke the game open. The Mustangs went into halftime with a 28-13 advantage and the Trojans were unable to make any significant headway in the final 16 minutes.
The Mustangs’ defense and relatively balanced scoring made the difference. Pressing full court early, they dictated the tempo of the game and held Castle Park to a meager 19.7 percent from the field. “They were bigger than us,” said Smithey. “We wanted to get out and run and brought a little pressure defensively. I think eventually we wore them down.”
On the offensive end, Werbelow’s 21, including three treys and eight free throws, were significant but just as important was the impact coming from throughout the lineup. The 6-foot Pavlovich had 12 points, 15 boards and a number of key early contributions up-and-down the court. Senior point guard Josephine Willard had a nice line that included five points, nine rebounds and eight assists and 5-foot-8 freshman Antonia Billante came off the bench to score eight, most in a mid-game stretch that helped SDA build its lead. Before she was sidelined with foul trouble, Sedlock was on the business end of the pressure “D.” On the other side of the scoresheet, Alejandra Rios-Castro (15 pts.) was the only Trojan to score more than six.
“This is a big step for our program, I think we’re going in the right direction” said Smithey, noting the Mustang contingent in the stands that stood out despite the presence of the good-sized, high volume Castle Park pep band. “We had a semi-final game at home, got the whole school involved and this, today, was the biggest crowd I’ve seen at SDA in six years.
“It’s been a building process since the day I got here. Every year we get a little bit more committed and get a little more confidence. It’s awesome.”
Sedlock also recognized the big picture implications. “SDA had never even won a single playoff game since becoming an academy (1996),” said Sedlock. “So, winning just one playoff game was fantastic—to be here today winning a championship is amazing.”