Johnson, Nordhoff lady cagers break Cardinal
By Ted Cotti
Nordhoff High School's girls' varsity basketball
team lengthened its winning streak to five games, defeating visiting
Santa Paula in the team's 2003 Frontier League opener 77-64 Tuesday.
Alison Bennett scored a career-high 28 points and pulled down
a career high 19 rebounds; Sarah Nylander nearly recorded a triple
double with nine points, seven boards and eight steals. Point
guard Arian Roach scored eight and had eight assists without
a single turnover, and Tahnie Benitez scored 12 and added nine
rebounds while holding Ventura County's three-point shot all-time
career record holder Sarah Ruiz to just three baskets.
However, it was NHS junior guard Taylor Johnson who, in just
three minutes of play, really broke Santa Paula's spirit.
Trailing by as many as 16 points in the first half and by 10
at intermission, the Rangers rallied in the second half, out-scoring
the Cardinals, 55-22, not allowing the visitors a single field
goal in the third quarter.
While it was the defense of Nylander and Benitez that bolstered
the third-quarter rally, it was a pair of buckets from the left
win by Johnson that sparked the fourth quarter offensive explosion.
Taylor came off the bench and gave NHS a huge lift.
"We knew we could count on her to give us a few minutes
of solid defense out front on Ruiz but those two buckets just
changed the game," Nordhoff coach Ted Cotti said.
Once Nordhoff started hitting from the outside, Santa Paula knew
they were really in trouble because they were already having
trouble with Bennett inside.
Cotti added that while Benitez played a strong game, he was disappointed
in Nordhoff's other players' lack of defensive aggressiveness
and intensity in the first half.
"I wasn't too worried about our offense though because we
were getting good shots from the outset," he noted. "We
just weren't making them."
In the second half, the ball started dropping (the Rangers went
from 11/33 in the first half to 16/25 in the second) and NHS
was able to regain control.
"It was a good test for us," Cotti said.
Nordhoff will face an even stiffer test Friday when they play
at Oaks Christian, who is heavily favored to win in the Frontier
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