The No. 5 U-Prep girls basketball team played as close to a perfect quarter as the Panthers could and used it to cruise to a 55-34 Northern Section Division IV opening-round win over No. 12 Orland on Tuesday.
Steven Schuster’s club dropped 27 points in the opening frame, jumping out to what proved to be an insurmountable lead. This was a stark contrast to one year ago when the then-seventh seeded Panthers went ice cold in a 44-34 loss to No. 10 Wheatland.
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“Last season I think we scored 30 points in the whole game and tonight we score 27 in the first quarter,” Schuster said. “We’ve got a lot of kids who’ve been shooting the ball well lately, led by Kaleia Mizuta.
“When we play fast and move the ball, we get a lot of open looks and we have the kids who can make those shots.”
The Panthers started fast, hitting 9-of-12 from the field in the opening period, while adding 6-of-8 free throws.
Video by Tracy Holmes/Shasta County Sports
Sophomore Melanie Lindsey got U-Prep started on its first possession, taking a pass down low and converting the bucket and the and-one 30 seconds in.
Fellow sophomore Jordan McCoy, who spent time on the bench this season injured, stole the ball from the Orland point, but missed a transition bucket, and Mizuta missed an open 3-pointers a minute later. Then the Panthers got hot – real hot.
Lindsey hit down low. Mizuta picked an Orland player’s pocket and took it the other way for a layup before hitting a right-wing triple after an other Trojans’ turnover – one of 17 in the first half.
McCoy hit a 15-footer, Kylie Hokanson added a bucket and McCoy added two charity stripe points to put the hosts up 16-3 with 3:05 left in the period. McCoy and Mizuta added 3-balls before Hokanson and Mizuta combined for three freebies in five attempts and Maya Sammut closed the quarter with a low-post shot off a Ashlee Kraft dime.
All Orland could muster was a Nyla Alva jumper, one of two free throws from Genieveve Velasquez and a 3-pointer from Lilly Golia.
Schuster said the fact Orland entered the contest 13 games below .500 didn’t matter, especially after losing last year to Wheatland in the opening round.
“Even through they’re (the Trojans) 7-20, it’s a different atmosphere and the desire is to win,” Schuster said. “It’s one and done from here on out. We talked about that coming in, knowing we’re going to get their best shot.”
The Panthers cooled a bit in the second period, scoring six points as shots that had been falling suddenly weren’t.
But with a 21-point cushion, the Panthers could afford to trade baskets with Orland.
When Hokanson canned a jumper at the halftime buzzer, the Panthers led 33-13 at intermission before holding a 21-point lead after the third period and at the end of the game.
Schuster said having played a game prior to Thursday’s meeting with No. 4 Sutter, on the road, helps his squad.
“I think it gives a comfort going into Thursday (against Sutter) that we’ve played a game,” he said. “We understand what it’s going to be like and we understand that we can be really effective when we play well.
“I think we know we’re good enough to beat anybody, but we also know that we’ve got to come ut and do our jobs.”
Mizuta led the Panthers with 14 points while Lindsey and Hokanson each added 13. McCoy chipped in 12 for U-Prep. Tylia Lamar led Orland with 10, the lone player in double figures.
Orland – 6-7-11-10 – 34
U-Prep – 27-6-12-10 – 55
No. 12 Trojans (7-21) – Velasquez 1, Allen 2, Golia 3, Foster 3, Ward 4, Cauthon 4, Alva 7, Lamar 10
No. 5 Panthers (18-10) – Kraft 1, Sammut 2, McCoy 12, Lindsey 13, Hokanson 13, Mizuta 14
3-pointers – OHS – 3: Alva, Foster, Golia; UP – 7: Hokanson, Lindsey (2), McCoy (2), Mizuta (2).
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