NHS lady cagers on early-season roll in own
tourney and beyond
By Jesse Phelps
The Nordhoff girls' varsity basketball
squad played some good basketball last week and started to look
like the contending team folks in Ojai expect. They started the
week in Palm Springs, visiting Division II Cathedral City in
a non-league game.
"I wnted the girls to play against a bigger school in a
foreign place to prepare ourselves for the Ventura Optimists
Tournament that features some of the section's - if not the state's
- best teams," said head coach Ted Cotti.
The Rangers defeated the Lions 81-55. Nordhoff started slow,
experiencing a little trouble with the Lion press, but settled
in and found itself in a run-and-shoot contest.
"Just the way we like it," said Cotti.
It was 23-19 at the end of one quarter and 33-27 Nordhoff with
4:00 to play until the half. "They were spent by then,"
The Rangers scored the last eight points of the half to lead
41-27. That was the closest the Lions would get. They sat in
a zone the second half and had to pull off the press but the
Rangers were relentless.
Nordhoff kept pushing and firing
away. Sarah Nylander's three fourth-quarter treys capped her
school-record night of six threes, eclipsing Nell Becker's 1996
record. Alison Bennett finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds and
four blocks, Tahnie Benitez had 18 points and 12 boards, and
point guard Megan Swann dished a career high eight assists. Johanna
Rothermel added three assists and five steals.
The Rangers then returned home to host its own tournament and
continued to fare well. They opened against La Reina missing
four players - and with three others playing with the flu.
"As such, I brought up Cate Bradley, Lindsay Kroener and
Emilee Turner from JV," Cotti said.
Each saw action, Kroener scoring four in a 60-33 win. Nylander
led all scorers with 19. Swann again had eight assists, to go
with four blocks, five steals, seven rebounds and six points.
Sarah Bledsoe, our other freshmen, scored a career-high eight,
as did Maegan Bunker.
Nordhoff met Carpinteria in the second round and survived a 44-38
scare. Perhaps still a bit under the weather, the Rangers had
trouble playing man to man and eventually fell back into a zone
once they grabbed their first lead midway through the second
Carpinteria responded in the second half by stalling every time
down the court. As such, it was a low-scoring, every-possession-is-important
"That was good experience for us but not much fun to watch,"
Cotti said. "Benitez really carried us that night with 14
points and 10 rebounds."
Bennett added 11 points and Sarah Lagos and Nylander, with two
first half threes each, added eight apiece. Swann finished with
six assists and five steals, including a crucial pair of picks
in the fourth quarter to keep the Warriors at bay.
Nordhoff lost in the semifinals for the third consecutive year,
this time falling to Westlake.
"Their height and wingspan bothered us and we had too many
passes picked and gave up too many offensive rebounds (20),"
Adding in Nordhoff's 17 for 47 shooting equalled a 58-44 loss.
Bennett had 15 (on 7/12 from the floor) and 15, playing her best
game to date.
"She really worked to get the ball and wanted it, but our
guards did a poor job executing post entry passes in this one,"
said Cotti. Nylander added 13 points and Lagos six.
Unlike the previous two years, the Rangers rebounded the next
night to win the third place game, upsetting Division I contender
Channel Islands, 49-41.
"We played our best man defense of the season and limited
their three-point shooters to a 5 for 26 performance," Cotti
said. Meanwhile, the Rangers went five of 14 from behind the
However it was Benitez and Bennett with 11 apiece inside that
spelled the difference The pair also combined for 24 rebounds,
heldping the Rangers gain a 45-25 rebounding advantage.
"When we rebound we win," Cotti said. "That is
going to be a key to our season." Offensive rebounds give
the Rangers second chances to score, and defensive rebounds initiated
their fast break.
The Rangers led by as much as 16 after holding the Raiders to
just four in the third, but had to bear down in the final minutes
to hold on, surviving an 18-point fourth quarter by the Raiders.
Rothermel, Bennett and Swann each played crucial roles in the
final minutes, breaking the Raider trap. Nylander stepped up,
making all of her free throws and an additional field goal in
the final frame on her way to 10 points. Bennett also finished
with 10 points, adding 16 rebounds, four assists and three blocks
to earn all-tournament honors.
Benitez added 11 and eight, and
Rothermel and Bledsoe each had five, three of Beldsoe's coming
on a three from the deep corner as time ran out in the first
Nordhoff will play at the Ventura Optimist Tourney at Ventura
High School this week. It's pool play for three days and then
a fourth game Saturday. Wednesday, the Rangers play Ventura at
7:30. Thursday, they'll take on powerhouse Clovis West at 3 p.m.
and Friday Division I CIF champion Redondo at 4:30.
"This is no doubt the toughest tournament field that any
Nordhoff team has ever faced," Cotti said. "No doubt
these teams will expose some of our weaknesses, but those lessons
will help us in our pursuit of a league title this year. This
tournament is also a chance for our girls to play against some
of the section's best players and to gain some major recognition."
The Ojai Valley News
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