Last year Pinewood stunned the girls basketball world with a triple-overtime win in the NorCal final over undefeated Mitty, the top-ranked team in the nation, only to lose to Windward in the state championship game.
"Getting beat last year adds a little extra fire,'' Pinewood coach Doc Scheppler said. "For this senior-laden team this is the last dance, the last rodeo, the last chance to go out as Open Division champions. An amazing accomplishment and opportunity for a school of 200 kids. We play a style of basketball that's very pleasurable to watch, and that's a testament to how hard these kids have worked.''
Sierra Canyon (32-1) of Chatsworth defeated Clovis West 75-70 in the SoCal Open final after beating defending state champion Windward, the only team it lost to this season, in the semifinals. The Trailblazers rallied from a 20-point deficit against Clovis West.
"They play three guards and they like to shoot,'' Scheppler said. "They are very skilled and don't rely on inside scoring.''
Sounds a lot like Pinewood.
"We share the same mindset,'' Scheppler said.
Vanessa DeJesus, Angela Bacoulis and Ashley Chevalier constitute Sierra Canyon's guard trip. Chevalier, a junior, scored a team-high18 points in the win in the SoCal final. She has already committed to Texas.
Pinewood, which won six state Division V championships under Scheppler before being elevated to the Open Division, lost to Sierra Canyon in the 2013 state Division V final.
Klara Astrom, a senior headed to Yale, was Pinewood's go-to offensive player against Salesian, hitting seven 3-pointers and scoring 27 points. She averages 16.2 points per game and a team-best 7.0 rebounds. Hannah Jump, a senior headed to Stanford and the team's leading scorer on the season at 17.0 points per game, focused on defense against Salesian, but made five free throws in the final minute to finish with 10 points.
Those two players were big contributors as freshmen when Pinewood first raised eyebrows and served notice of being an elite program with a win in Stockton over nationally No. 1-ranked St. Mary's in the NorCal semifinals. They combined for eight of Pinewood's 16 3-pointers in that game. They were juniors on last year's state final team. Now they're going back to the state Open Division finals as seniors with a chance to make history, to win a championship on high school girls basketball's greatest stage, at its highest level.
"It feels amazing,'' Jump said. "All the hard work in the offseason is paying off. Now we have to get a win on Saturday. We're ready.''
This story contains 504 words.
Stories older than 90 days are available only to subscribing members. Please help sustain quality local journalism by becoming a subscribing member today.
If you are already a subscriber, please log in so you can continue to enjoy unlimited access to stories and archives. Subscriptions start at $5 per month and may be cancelled at any time.