FAIRFIELD — Heading into today’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division I semifinal matchup, the Armijo High girls basketball team has its work cut out.
Taking on No. 1 St. Mary’s of Stockton for a berth in Saturday’s section championship game, the fifth-seeded Indians face a mammoth task, but they remain undeterred.
The game is set for 4 p.m. at the Spanos Center on the campus of the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
“Going against a national power is something we haven’t done a lot of, but we feel we have nothing to lose, so we’ll come out confident and anything can happen,” said Armijo coach Christian Stoll. “We have good ball handlers and that gives us a fighting chance against them.”
St. Mary’s comes into the game ranked 18th in the nation in the MaxPreps Xcellent 25 and 16th in MaxPreps’ Freeman rankings.
The prep sports’ website also lists the Rams at seventh in the state.
CalHiSports puts St. Mary’s fourth in the state and second in Division I behind Mater Dei of Santa Ana.
“We’ve been through this before,” Stoll said. “I think we’ll play with confidence (today). I think we’re playing better than we have – ever. If we can build on that, we should have a shot.”
The Indians are coming off probably their best game of the year, a 76-48 thumping of St. Francis in the quarterfinals last Thursday.
In that game, Armijo point guard Marshanique Hall exploded for 25 points, one point shy of her career high.
Post Melaya Gaines added 19, while Laura Lawson put up a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Justice Robinson-Kroon also scored 10.
“We’re going to have to come out with the same intensity and the same aggressiveness,” Stoll said. “I thought we attacked the basket well.”
That level of play needs to translate to today if the Indians hope to challenge the Rams.
“Our forwards and our bigs are going to have to be ready to catch and finish because the guards are going to be harassed for the full 32 minutes,” Stoll said of St. Mary’s pressure defense. “From what I have been able to see from teams that have had success, if you break that first line of defense, then the bigs are open.”
That means minimizing turnovers and taking care of the ball.
“We have to take care of the ball and have everybody on the floor ready to handle the ball,” Stoll said. “I think that’s a strength of ours.”
Healthwise, the Indians are as healthy as they’ve been all season the coach said.
Hall, S’ade Ware and Justice Robinson-Kroon have all battled nagging injuries, but all are ready to go, Stoll said.
Whatever happens, the Indians are in their third straight section semifinal, falling to a highly ranked St. Francis team in 2011, and to Oak Ridge last year.
“We played St. Francis two years back and Carondelet in the state tournament later that same year, so we’ve gone on to face really strong teams – it’s nothing we haven’t seen before,” Stoll said. “They’re nationally ranked. We’re up against a tough opponent, but we’ll be ready to go.”
Reach Mike Corpos at 427-6979 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/mcorposdr.