High school girls basketball: Sac High not perfect, but victorious

Published: Tuesday, Mar. 4, 2014 - 11:03 pm
Last Modified: Wednesday, Mar. 5, 2014 - 12:12 am

Coaches at all levels become perfectionists.

Even a spirited, thorough effort against a quality program prompts some to seek smears among the gloss. Take Michele Massari, the passionate Sacramento High School coach who could shut out an opponent and still wonder how in the world her team gave up any rebounds.

She wasn’t quite that critical of the Dragons’ 47-30 victory over a very sound Del Oro group Tuesday night in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinal at Pacific, but the veteran coach is imploring her group to produce more. She strives for the perfect outing.

“We were good at times – and not so good at times,” Massari said. “We definitely have some kinks to iron out. But this can be a really good team. Really good.”

The Dragons (22-8) offered glimpses against Del Oro (21-9), particularly with offensive balance and defensive toughness. Ayanna Edwards led all scorers with 10 points, and the 6-foot-4 senior center had seven rebounds and six blocked shots in dominating the paint at both ends.

Najah Queenland, perhaps the most complete player in the section, had a typical all-around game. The senior guard – and capable of playing four positions – scored nine points with four rebounds, four assists and three steals. She also played some suffocating defense.

Simone Sheppard had six points and 13 rebounds, and Zonyia Cormier had four points, four assists and three steals.

All told, Sacramento had too many offensive options and was too quick and too physical for Del Oro. The Dragons defeated the Golden Eagles for the third time in a row in the section semifinals.

“They’re not just Division I talent,” Del Oro coach Mike Takayama said of the Dragons, “they’re Division I bodies.”

Queenland said the Dragons agree with their fiery coach that an especially intense outing will be needed to beat top-seeded McNair of Stockton in Saturday’s final at Sleep Train Arena. The Dragons seek a D-II repeat and the program’s fourth title since 2011 under Massari.

“We appreciate the wins and the good plays, but we still get yelled at about the mistakes because we know those mistakes could cost us games,” Queenland said. “We have to get better.”

Massari heaped praise on her senior leaders in Edwards, known as “Shaq,” and Queenland, wondering if there’s a better 1-2 defensive punch in the section.

“Shaq is great, can’t be guarded, and Najah is super underrated. She can do it all, inside and outside game.”

Massari said the Dragons will have a hard practice Thursday and a team-bonding Friday. Such as?

“We’ll practice,” the coach said, pausing then offering a laugh.

Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD and listen to his “Extra Point” every Wednesday on ESPN Radio 1320.

Read more articles by Joe Davidson

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