Peninsula girls basketball uses quick start to take control against Mary Star

SAN PEDRO >> Mary Star girls basketball standout sophomore Madison Watts has been a headache for most opposing teams in her young career.

However, Peninsula figured out the best way to neutralize Watts’ talent was to make it tough for her to get the ball in her hands Friday.

A pestering defense helped the Panthers build a 14-point halftime lead and they doubled it with a 14-0 run to open the second half in a convincing 56-31 victory over the Stars.

Junior guard Jadyn Lee scored 25 of her 27 points after the first quarter to lead Peninsula (6-5), while Jami Galdones added 10 points.

“We really played together as a team and moved the ball well,” Panthers coach Natalie Kelly said. “That was the key for us tonight.”

Lee connected on 12 of 15 shots from the field, including 3 of 5 on 3-point attempts, and added four steals. She accounted for nine of the 14 points to open the second half.

“At the half, we just told them they needed to come out strong and they were ready to play,” Kelly said.

The loss snapped a 24-game home winning streak for Mary Star (8-2), which entered the week ranked 10th in CIF Southern Section Division 2A.

The Stars were held to 28 points below their average entering the contest.

They were bothered by the Panthers’ full-court press from the outset and trailed 13-6 after one quarter. Mary Star’s first made field goal, a 3-pointer from Jozy Jaramillo, occurred more than midway through the quarter.

The press made it difficult for Mary Star to run its offense, coach Victor Tuberosi said.

“We need to learn how to play with each other a little better,” Tuberosi said. “But it was good to play an opponent like that because they play team basketball really well.

“This is a good learning experience for us.”

Watts didn’t convert her first basket until the final 30 seconds of the opening quarter and finished with a team-high 14 points to go with nine rebounds and five blocks.

Watts was coming off a stellar four-game tournament in which she averaged 20.2 points and 12.7 rebounds. Her basket with 7:25 left in the first half pulled the Stars within 13-8, but that was as close as they got the rest of the night.

Among the lessons Watts learned, Tuberosi said, was “more cutting, more movement on offense.”

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