April 19, 2024
CCS Open Division girls basketball: Archbishop Mitty steamrolls St. Ignatius to wrap up eighth section title in nine seasons

SANTA CLARA  –  From the opening tip to the final buzzer, there was no doubt which team would be crowned as the Central Coast Section Open Division champions at Santa Clara University on Friday night. 

Archbishop Mitty’s girls basketball team turned the championship matchup with St. Ignatius, a game that is supposed to be a matchup between the two best teams in the section, into another opportunity to show why the Monarchs are the best team in the country. 

“Winning CCS titles never gets old,” Mitty coach Sue Phillips said.

The 84-44 final score somehow still understated the gulf in talent between the teams. 

Even with UConn commit Morgan Cheli out with an undisclosed injury, and future Lehigh forward Belle Bramer sitting with an injury, Mitty had no problem dispatching the San Francisco school. 

St. Ignatius’ players tried their best, throwing every coverage and look they could devise at the Mitty juggernaut. 

But no strategy or tactic could stop Woliczko from scoring 30 on an array of turnaround jumpers and layups while blocking four shots, or, Elana Weisman from putting in 18 points, or Emma Cook from dropping in 10 on determined drives. 

Mitty’s players weren’t just bigger and faster than their opponents, with two starters standing over 6-foot-2, but they also had the offensive skill to run sets, move the ball and create open shots. 

That started with Woliczko, who elevated over one, two and sometimes three defenders before knocking down shots. 

“In my opinion, nobody can stop McKenna, especially in the post,” Weisman said. 

For some teams, winning the section is the goal. For Mitty, claiming its eighth CCS Open title in nine seasons and 32nd section championship overall, is certainly appreciated. As Phillips said postgame, there are hundreds of teams who dream of hoisting the section trophy. 

Three-peating as NorCal Open champions, a quest that starts next week, is another objective that will be celebrated appropriately. But the ultimate goal is to win the program’s first state Open Division title, even if its top players preach a day-by-day philosophy. 

“Right now, we’re not looking that far ahead,” Weisman said. “We’re trying to live in the moment.”

St. Ignatius never stood a chance on Friday. 

The Monarchs led 19-6 after one quarter and 44-20 by halftime. It wasn’t Mitty’s best shooting game, but Woliczko and Weisman dominated the interior and gave the Monarchs a litany of extra possessions.

Phillips, Woliczko and Weisman all said that pounding the glass was a point of emphasis during the pregame meeting. 

St. Ignatius, which is guaranteed a spot in NorCal, was occasionally able to find holes in Mitty’s frenetic defense due to smart cuts from Meaghan Manning and Julia Alcantara, but couldn’t overcome the talent deficit. 

“I’m proud of our fight, and the girls didn’t give up,” St. Ignatius coach Maya Fok said. “Our girls stuck together through thick and thin. That’s all you can ask for.”

Archbishop Mitty won by at least 20 points for the 21st game in a row. The Monarchs will be the top seed in NorCal when the seeding is revealed for regional play, as there is no arguing with the San Jose private school’s resume. 

Mitty has been ranked as the nation’s top team for the majority of the season, earning that designation after beating then-No. 1 Long Island Lutheran on national TV in December.

Even with Cheli missing the past seven games, the Monarchs beat every West Catholic Athletic League opponent by at least 30 points. Then they steamrolled their three CCS Open opponents in a similarly-dominant fashion.

Longtime nemesis Pinewood challenged the juggernaut for a half, but they eventually went down 86-58

Then came more title game hardware to add to the program’s crowded trophy case. 

The Monarchs will be given the top seed in the NorCal Open Division when the brackets are announced on Sunday. Phillips said she “hopes” Cheli will play in the team’s NorCal opener, which is bad news for the rest of the region. 

“Obviously there’s pressure, and there’s people talking, but we’re taking it one practice and game at  a time,” Woliczko said about how the team is approaching NorCal.