FAIRFIELD — Sometimes the statistics do tell the truth.
They did Tuesday night.
The Vanden High girls basketball team allowed Pioneer of Woodland just four baskets and 15 shots, forced 31 turnovers and held a 37-11 rebounding edge to build a 38-point halftime lead en route to an 81-25 victory in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs at Jim Boyd Gym.
The top-seeded Vikings (22-5), who have won at least one playoff game in each of Allison Johnson’s 10 seasons as coach, host No. 8 East Union of Manteca, a 53-49 winner over Placer of Auburn, in the quarterfinals, Thursday.
“I thought that our defense was good,” said Johnson, whose teams are 17-9 in SJS playoff games. “They have a super-talented freshman (Shanaijah Davison). They’re a much improved team. They were 2-22 last year and (17-9) this year.
The Vikings were their same old smothering-defensive, crashing-the-boards, take-it-to-the-basket selves, scoring the game’s first eight points and were never remotely threatened.
Their first points were a thing of beauty, a basket by Aleseana Whitney on an inbounds play 20 seconds into the game.
Whitney led all scorers with 18 points – six in each of the first three quarters – and dominated the boards along with Mariah Williams, helping Vanden enjoy a 54-18 edge in rebounding for the game.
“They’re a tough matchup any day and twice on Sunday,” Johnson said. “They’re a tough matchup.”
The only downer for the Vikings in building a 27-9 lead after the first quarter was an ankle injury suffered by first-team all-Solano County Athletic Conference guard Kiana Moore while scrambling for a loose ball.
Johnson said Moore rolled her ankle, “but didn’t hear it pop. . . It’s sore and it’s swollen.”
Moore’s availability for Thursday’s game with East Union is questionable, Johnson said, adding that she’d like to rest the standout sophomore to give her a full week between games should they prevail against the Lancers.
“We’ll see what happens,” the coach said.
The rest of the Vikings didn’t skip a beat in the second quarter, outscoring the Patriots 26-6 while forcing 17 turnovers to eight of their own while holding a 21-5 rebounding advantage to lead 53-15 at the break.
At one point, Vanden stole the ball on six straight possessions and seven of eight.
The third quarter was more of the same as the Vikings held the visitors scoreless the first 5 1/2 minutes and enjoyed their biggest lead of the night at 75-16 after a Azanae Lewis layup.
With Vanden leading 77-20 after three quarters, the final period – thanks to a running clock – lasted exactly 8 minutes.
After Whitney, Alex Bader was next with 12 points, followed by Julia Blackshell-Fair with 11, Brittney Livingston with nine and Kayla Blair with eight.
Had Vanden shot better than 38 percent (21 for 56) in the first half, the final 56-point margin would’ve been much larger.
“I know we missed a lot of easy shots tonight,” Johnson said. “They’re harder on themselves than I am. They’re tougher on themselves for missing easy shots.”
Jordan Ball led Pioneer with seven points, while Alexis Mata had six and Davison five.
Reach Paul Farmer at 425-4646, ext. 264, or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pfarmerdr.