Girls' CCS basketball roundup: St. Francis eliminated in heartbreaker; Aptos advances to 3rd straight final

St. Francis sophomore Audrey Hernandez is chased down by a Notre Dame-Salinas defender during their CCS D-V semifinal at Watsonville High. — Tony Nunez/Register-Pajaronian

M.V.C. falls to top-seeded S.H.P.

Two measly points. 

That’s all that separated St. Francis from a return to the Central Coast Section Division V championship game, as the No. 3 Sharks fell to No. 2 Notre Dame-Salinas, 40-39, in the semifinal round Thursday night in Watsonville.

The loss wraps up a solid season for the Sharks, and interim coach Adam Hazel, who took over two weeks into the year. They finished with a 12-13 overall record, but managed to win a share of the Pacific Coast Athletic League Cypress division title.

Senior point guard Janessa Yniguez paced the Sharks with 12 points, and eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for her career. Sophomore Audrey Hernandez (9), senior Tanya Gallo (8) and Grace Kovacs (7) combined for 24 points in the loss.

St. Francis will only graduate two — Yniguez and Gallo — but both will be big losses.

In other girls’ CCS basketball action:

Aptos 54, Saratoga 36 - The Mariners are heading back to the CCS D-III championship game for the third straight season, and they’ll be playing a familiar opponent.

Top-seeded Aptos will face No. 2 South San Francisco on Saturday in a rematch of last year’s final. S.S.F. (20-8) last year knocked off Aptos, the 2017 D-III champion, for the title. 

The two will clash at Palo Alto on Saturday at 2 p.m.

The Warriors had to rally in the second half to beat No. 6 Sobrato on Thursday night, and advance to the final.

That wasn’t the case for Aptos (22-6). The Mariners led 28-13 at the half, and 46-19 heading into the fourth quarter.

Junior forward Natalia Ackerman recorded her 15th double-double of the season, finishing with 20 points and 11 rebounds. She also had three steals, two blocks and two assists.

Junior point guard Gabby Giuffre hit five 3-pointers and poured in 18 points.

S.H.P. 44, M.V.C. 30 - The No. 5 Mustangs’ lost to the top-seeded Gators in the CCS D-IV semifinals at The Menlo School on Thursday night.

Junior wing Madison Hill had seven points, seven rebounds, two steals and two blocks for M.V.C., which ends its season with a 19-8 overall record.

Sophomore guard Mackenzie Tellez chipped in six points and five assists, and sophomore forward Aleah Rafat provided four points, 10 rebounds and two steals.

The Mustangs, fourth-place finishers in the PCAL-Gabilan, will say goodbye to four seniors: Grace Dziuba, Angel Alcantar, Sara Gallardo and Abby Guerrero.

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