The Bishop Diego High girls basketball team was ready to do something it hadn’t done in five years and wasted no time doing so in its game against Garden Street Academy in the first round of the CIF-SS Div. 5A playoffs.
In the first quarter, the Cardinals, seeded second in Div. 5A, forced 13 turnovers, took an 18-point lead, and completely blitzed the Comets, en route to a 51-16 win at home.
“Our team is really hard working. We’ve had trouble toward the beginning of the season and all coming together but now that playoffs have come, I think we’re all like bonding and our defense is getting more competitive and on offense, we’re not being selfish and getting open shots anywhere we can,” junior guard Elliott Redkey said.
The Cardinals led 3-0 early before the Comets got on the board with a basket to cut the lead to just one. From there, Bishop Diego ended the quarter on a 17-0 run to lead 20-2 after the first eight minutes.
Redkey was a big factor in that first period, shooting 3-for-4 from the floor and going 1-for-2 from the charity stripe to lead all shooters at that point with seven points.
“It was good, I know right off the bat, every game, my team kind of needs that and I am that person that’s like ‘I’ll get in and go and get the lead going,’ and then once we get that lead up then I’ll dish it out to other people to give them opportunities,” Redkey said.
The junior point guard runs the show for the Cardinals offense, and does a pretty good job of it most nights, including Thursday.
“Well, I want to score, but I will also want to open up opportunities for my teammates. So usually I drive down the lane and look for my posts down low because if the defense helps I can pass it to them for a basket,” Redkey said.
Redkey scored no more points after the first period as she was on the bench most of the time as the game was well in control.
She would finish with seven points, four steals, three rebounds, and two assists.
Redkey is also nursing a bronchitis illness, which sometimes hinders her ability to breathe out on the court. Her bronchitis came as a result of having tonsillitis. The junior will get her tonsils removed after the postseason.
Asked why she would continue to play even though she is suffering through a tough illness, Redkey simply responded: “because I love basketball.”
“No illness, unless I’m contagious and will get my other teammates sick, which I had before, will keep me off the court because I love this sport too much.”
Redkey’s journey to Thursday began her freshman year when she played basketball for the JV team over at Santa Barbara High. She would transfer to Bishop Diego in her sophomore year but a groin injury limited her playing time.
Thursday was her first-ever postseason win and the junior believes there are more to come for her team this year.
“I’m really excited. I never really got this experience so it means a lot to me and my team and I think we can do well,” Redkey said.
The Cardinals began the second period with 11 straight points and would take a 31-4 lead into the break. In the third period, Bishop again looked dominant, outscoring Garden Street 16-2 to take a commanding 47-6 lead into the fourth.
Once there, the Comets were able to put together their best offensive quarter, scoring 10 points while limiting the Cardinals to just four.
Freshman Lily Simolon led all scorers on Thursday, scoring 11 points through three quarters for Bishop. The post also managed to pull down seven rebounds, three of which came off the offensive glass.
Another player who had a solid game was Siena Urzua. The freshman joined the team a couple of weeks ago toward the tail end of the soccer season.
Urzua, in limited minutes, scored four points, collected six rebounds, picked up a couple of steals and also totaled two assists.
“I’m just kind of getting the hang of it so far so I’ve only played like a week or two but it’s a lot more fun when I’m playing well instead of like not knowing what to do and just being confused on the court,” Urzua said.
Coach Jeff Burich also noted the freshman’s solid play Thursday, saying she is looking a lot more comfortable in her role as the season progresses.
“It’s just amazing because she always grew up playing point guard and in practice, she never really gets that chance but (Thursday), this was the best I’ve seen her handle the ball and, and she’s just getting more and more comfortable with what she’s doing,” Burich said.
“It doesn’t surprise me, but it’s a nice thing to have and a nice weapon to have in the arsenal.”
Overall, Burich was also pleased with the performance of his team, adding that their defense in the first quarter was solid but still has room for improvement.
As the second seed, Burich said a big talking point before Thursday was how the program wanted to earn its first CIF win since 2015. That same year was the last time Bishop also won a CIF-SS title.
“I got all the confidence in our team. We’re looking forward to hopefully playing the number one team because they got a 6-3 transfer that we want to get our crack out but I think for the kids, as long as we play our game and we don’t try and do too much, I think we should be fine,” Burich said.