Thursday, February 21, 2008

Villanova bound for semifinals

‘Nova’s Hannah Hoffman, right, celebrates victory with teammates Gabrielle Root and Maryrose Vigorita. The 19-7 Wildcats will head to La Habra Saturday to face the 22-7 Whittier Christian Heralds.

By Mike Miller
If you are a fan of fast-paced basketball, you would have loved the CIF quarterfinal game that showcased Villanova (19-7) and Rosamond (23-4) last Wednesday night. Villanova battled back from a 12-point first-half deficit to beat a well coached and well-prepared Rosamond team, 74-63.
The game was much closer than the final score would show. The Lady Wildcats were slow out of the gate and fell behind 15-9 in the first quarter. Had it not been for the early play of Katilin Reilley, VPS would have been in serious trouble in the first half. Reilley scored six of the nine first-quarter points for the Wildcats and it was not until 6:42 to go in the second quarter when someone other than Reilley made a shot from the field. Enter freshman Hannah Kolbeck. Kolbeck went on a roll, scoring a game-high 27 points and nabbed 17 rebounds in the winning effort, solidifying herself as one of the area’s best young players to keep an eye on.
After trailing 36-29 at the half, head coach Sarah Angell and her staff made some adjustments and her crew executed perfectly in the third quarter. The Lady Wildcats erased their seven-point deficit and took a three-point lead into the final frame thanks to the fact that they outscored the Roadrunners 20-10 in the quarter. Senior Hannah Hoffman joined Reilley and Kolbeck in the scoring column by adding 24 points of her own, including several clutch free throws.
The Roadrunners were determined to go home with the victory and they made a couple of fourth-quarter runs at VPS that had the student body on the edge of their seats. After Rosamond’s Amanda Smith banked home a three-pointer, the VPS lead was cut to three. From there, the trio of Reilley, Kolbeck and Hoffman salted the game away with put backs, free throws and open looks as a result of crisp passes from their teammates.
Rosamond was led by Smith and her 20 points. Smith did get her fourth foul early in the third period, which contributed to the 20-10 run by VPS. Arianna Pelayo also played well, scoring 19 points, but she simply could not contain Kolbeck on the block.
After the game, Angell said, “What won that game for them was heart. It was all heart. To be down almost 10 points at halftime, and then to win by more than 10 points against this team shows heart.” When asked if the furious pace in the first half worried her, she added, “No. Our subs were just as capable as theirs. I knew if necessary, we could count on them. This was a total team effort.”
Next up for Wildcats is a familiar opponent in Whittier Christian (22-7). The two teams matched up back in December, with Whittier Christian winning, 46-20. Villanova is amuch different team now, having won 16 consecutive games and they appear to be getting stronger as the play-offs wear on.
The semifinal game will be played tomorrow. Visit for the location and time of the game as well as updates on the game as soon as they become available.