By Bill Tamburrino
Ramona’s girls basketball team got off to a slow start in the Wolverine Invitational Basketball Tournament but finished strong.
The Lady Dawgs went 2-2 in the tourney and will enter 2012 with a 10-5 record.
“We are playing very well as a team,” said Coach Erin O’Connor. “We play very aggressive team defense and every girl on the team knows her role and does her job.”
One example that O’Connor gave came after the final game of the tournament against Mission Hills. “Julie Ward and Tiana Zuniga were asked to guard their best player, Amanda Darouie, who has been averaging in double figures. They teamed up to hold her to 8 points and that really hurt their offense.”
Ramona’s slow start against Valley Center in the opening game cost the Bulldogs the game. Valley Center jumped out to a 20-2 first quarter lead. Ramona outscored the Jaguars 39-20 for the rest of the game but could not overcome the bad start.
Kim Whelehon led Ramona with 9 points. RaeAnne VanTol and Paige Conroy scored 8 points apiece. Julie Ward (1), Tiana Zuniga (5), and Ashlyn Savage (5) also scored in the game.
Ramona lost to Olympian High School in the second game 62-54. The game was tied at 27 at half but the Olympians outscored the Lady Dawgs in the second half.
Whelehon and Conroy had excellent offensive performances, said O’Connor. Whelehon scored 18 points as she hit four from beyond the three point arch. Conroy scored 16 points with three 3-pointers.
VanTol (9), Zuniga (5) and Katherine Mauldin (6) also scored for the Lady Bulldogs.
The Pittsburgh Steelers could learn a lesson from Coach O’Connor. Paige Conroy sprained her foot early in Ramona’s 54-24 victory over La Jolla High School. O’Connor rested her senior guard to let her recover and Conroy returned to play well in the finale of the Tourney.
“Paige was not going to be full speed so we rested her. Megan Buckley stepped up and played her best game ever. She scored our first 7 points to start us off,” stated O’Connor, giving another example of a girl stepping up and helping the team.
Ramona used its smothering pressure team defense to force several turnovers as the team jumped out to a 21-2 lead in the first quarter. From then on O’Connor substituted freely, and every girl contributed to the win.
Zuniga scored a season high 15 points to lead all scorers as she played her usual tenacious defense. VanTol recorded a double as she scored 12 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Whelehon also scored in double figures with 10 points. Buckley scored all of her 7 points in the first quarter. Kailey Hill (6) and Mauldin (2) also scored.
Ramona used the same formula that worked so well against La Jolla to beat Mission Hills. The Ladies from the Valley of the Sun started with their signature smothering defense and took an 11-1 lead and then coasted to 46-27 victory as O’Connor again used her entire team in the win.
Whelehon led all scorers with 12 points scored exclusively from beyond the 3-point line. VanTol got all 11 of her points in the paint and from the charity stripe from being fouled in the paint.
Conroy returned to score 6 points. Hill had a season 9 points. Buckley (3), Ward (2) and Mauldin (3) also scored. Mauldin and VanTol shared the rebounding honors with five boards apiece.
The Lady Dawgs will return to action after the Winter Holidays and host Del Norte and Francis Parker before they open Palomar League action on Jan. 17.