BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer email@example.com
It wasn't the most overpowering win by Ridgeview on Wednesday night, but the victory was a program first.
The Wolf Pack won the first Southern California girls basketball playoff game in the school's history with a 64-47 win over Redondo Beach-Redondo Union at Ridgeview.
Ridgeview (27-3), the top seed in Division II, plays host to No. 8 Murrieta Valley on Saturday at 7 p.m. Murrieta Valley beat Westchester 71-48 in another first-round playoff game.
"We were a little bit nervous," said Stanford-bound Ridgeview senior Erica McCall, the state's all-time blocked shot record holder and No. 3 scorer. "Hopefully our next game we'll have a good night."
McCall, who averages 18.1 points and 15 rebounds, finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 11 blocks and five steals.
McCall had only five points at halftime but scored two quick buckets early in the third quarter to help the Wolf Pack build a 15-point advantage. The lead never dropped below 11 the rest of the way.
McCall had to work. She was matched up against Redondo's 6-foot senior forward Inara Nyingifa, who finished with 19 points. Nyingifa, who has committed to UC Riverside, was the Bay League's Most Outstanding Player who came into the game averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds.
"It's the first time all season I've had to work that hard," McCall said of her matchup against Nyingifa.
To her credit, Nyingifa kept working inside and challenged McCall all night, even though many of her shots were rejected. Most of McCall's blocks were against Nyingifa.
Ridgeview's Alex Green and Candace Wilkerson added 14 points each and Mikaela Gonzalez had nine.
Redondo never led. The first quarter ended 8-8 and Wilkerson's layup after a steal broke that tie in the opening seconds of the second quarter to put the Wolf Pack ahead for good.
Turnovers doomed Redondo. The Sea Hawks had 27, which prevented any type of offensive momentum.
"We prepared for them. We knew what we were up against," said Redondo coach Marcelo Enriquez. "We just couldn't take care of the basketball. Their press hurt us.
"I felt if we could take care of the basketball and handle the press, we thought we could be in it."
Ridgeview had 19 turnovers and made only 19 of 30 free throws. And the Wolf Pack missed numerous short jumpers and layups that kept the Sea Hawks in it.
"I think it was the pressure of the playoffs," said Ridgeview coach Michael Martin. "This is going to be a little different environment. Each game is going to be a little bit harder."
McCall had been on teams that had lost three SoCal playoff games in her Ridgeview career.
"This is the first time we've had this feeling in this building," she said. "But now we've just got to get ready for the next game."
Said Wilkerson: "We're No. 1 for a reason and we have to play that way."