San Marcos guard Ellie Monson is swarmed by the St. Joseph. | Credit: ENTENZA

A matchup with unbeaten St. Joseph got away from a shorthanded San Marcos High girls’ basketball team as the visiting Knights cruised to a 76-33 victory on Thursday night at the Thunderhut.

St. Joseph’s superstar junior Avary Cain exploded for 27 points, including 19 in the first half, and the Knights overwhelmed San Marcos with superior size and elite shot-making.

“We started out at a disadvantage. I have hurt players and sick players. I pulled up two girls from Junior Varsity, who have never practiced with us and never played with us. They didn’t know our offense or our defense,” said San Marcos coach Tiffany Simms. “I think effort-wise and heart-wise we did the best that we could do. We played from buzzer to buzzer regardless of the score, and that’s what I love about my team.”

The first quarter was tight throughout. A deep three-pointer by San Marcos junior guard Ellie Monson tied the game at 5-5 with 6:20 remaining in the first quarter. 

A three-pointer by Cain put St. Joseph back ahead 8-5 with 5:45 remaining in the first quarter, but Michelle Arellanes responded on the ensuing San Marcos possession with another shot from deep range that tied the score at 8-8. 

Michelle Arellanes scored a team-high 13 points for San Marcos. | Credit: Gary Kim

Monson’s second three-pointer of the first quarter tied the game at 15-15 with 2:30 remaining in the first quarter, but San Marcos could not sustain the hot shooting.

The Knights closed the first quarter on a 5-0 run and outscored San Marcos 25-9 in the second quarter to take a 45-24 lead into halftime.  St. Joseph took control of the game by tightening the screws on defense and converting turnovers into easy transition opportunities on offense.

“I think our defensive intensity picked up. We recognized who the shooters were and were able to contain them a little bit more,” said St. Joseph coach Kristina Santiago. “Really we got a lot of our momentum from defense once we started containing a little better. We stress our defensive intensity, but also our transition game.”

The lack of depth due to injury reared its ugly head for San Marcos in the second half as Monson did not return to the game after the break and the notable absence of Mia Martinez-Tomatis zapped the Royals of scoring punch on offense and tenacity on defense.

St. Joseph outscored San Marcos 23-7 in the third quarter. Kai Oani made two of her four three-pointers during the period.

“Not having enough bench players to sub in, the girls were tired leg-wise,” Simms said. “That affected our shots offensively, and they were short.”

Arellanes led the way for San Marcos with 13 points. Monson scored 10 points, all of which came in the first quarter. The Royals dropped to 4-4 with the loss.

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