After a long journey to the second round of the CIF Division 4 state playoffs, the San Marcos High School girls’ basketball team arrived at the end of the road following a 43-30 loss to visiting Imperial on Thursday night.
The loss wraps up by far the most successful season in program history, as the Royals reached the CIF-SS Division 3A semifinals and earned a berth into the state tournament for the first time.
“Like I told the girls in the team room, yes, it’s disappointing that we lost tonight, but if you look at the overall picture, we had a hell of a season and we did stuff that San Marcos girls’ basketball has never done,” said San Marcos coach Tiffany Simms. “We’ll use this as motivation for next year as a barometer of where we could go and how much farther we can go with work in the offseason.”
The long playoff run and San Marcos’ breakneck style of play appeared to take its toll as the Royals struggled mightily with shooting from the perimeter and consistently applying their trademark pressure on defense.
San Marcos only converted two of its attempts from three-point range in the entire game, despite Imperial packing the paint with a 2-3 zone defense.
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“I want to say game fatigue, a little mental fatigue, it was just fatigue all over and our shots just weren’t falling,” Simms said. “We couldn’t get into a rhythm offensively; defensively, we would go in spurts, but not for any long stretch of time”
After falling behind 12-4 at the end of the first quarter, San Marcos battled back and took a 13-12 lead on a fastbreak layup by Mia Martinez-Tomatis with 5:46 remaining in the second quarter.
Martinez-Tomatis finished with a team-high 14 points.
From there, the game took a turn for the worse for San Marcos. Imperial regained control with a 20-4 run that spanned through halftime and took a 32-16 lead on a three-point play by Sierra Morris with 5:11 remaining in the third quarter.
San Marcos cut its lead to 37-28 with a steal and transition layup by Ellie Monson with just over five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but that’s as close as the score would get.
“Every coach wants to win the Channel League. Every coach wants to win CIF, so those are the ultimate goals,” Simms said. “The immediate goals are to return our players healthy, work in the offseason to get a little bit stronger, a little bit better, and just build on the stuff we did this year.”