oach P.J. Deichler doesn’t need his Titans to win in shootouts. That wouldn’t be their strength, anyway.
“We have a small team, so we have to rely on our hustle and aggressiveness all the time, and that’s what they do,” he said.
They certainly did Friday evening, winning a defensive battle against Mission Prep 37-30 at the Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic at San Luis Obispo High.
Mission Prep took 21 more shots than Nipomo, but it didn’t matter.
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“They played a good defensive game against a solid offensive team,” Deichler said. “We don’t have a whole lot of offensive weapons, so we really do have to rely on our speed and our defense to create extra offensive opportunities.”
The Titans’ offense wasn’t too bad either when they needed it most. One such instance came at the end of the first half, when Judy Castillo hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to send Nipomo to the locker room up 23-20.
Another came with just under five minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Missi Ramsey hit a 3-pointer before a Tessa Underwood putback turned a 27-27 tie into a 32-27 Nipomo lead.
A Denielle Cain jumper with a minute-and-a-half remaining gave the Titans a 34-29 cushion, and Underwood sank two free throws with 19.9 seconds remaining to provide the final scoring.
“We came out focused and played a lot better on the boards,” Underwood said. “That made the game for us. (The Royals) are big and quick, and in order to get the rebounds, we had to box out and play tougher down low because we couldn’t outjump them.”
The Titans are relying on two young point guards in freshman Tess Lattimer and Ramsey, a sophomore.
“As a tandem, they worked really well together,” Deichler said.
Nipomo (3-5) also has four other newcomers this season, including Amber Britt, a junior forward whose defensive focus Deichler praised.
Sophomore point guard Jenna Dunbar led Mission Prep (4-3) with 12 points, and Bri Harvey added eight.
Underwood entered averaging team highs of 13.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and three steals per game.
“I think everyone that we play against knows we put everything through Underwood,” Deichler said of the junior forward, who at 5-foot-9 is Nipomo’s tallest player. “For the most part, (the Royals) were trying to take that away the whole game.”
Friday, Underwood was held to a team-best nine points. Cami Castillo and Cain each had six. In all, eight different Titans scored.“They’re definitely helping a lot,” Underwood said of the newcomer-led supporting cast.
In other Moriarty Enterprises Holiday Classic games:
Atascadero 47, Morro Bay 35
Atascadero’s Alyssa Palma scored a game-high 17 points while Raven Taylor added 10 for the Greyhounds (5-2) in the matchup of PAC 7 and Los Padres League hopeful contenders. Atascadero won every quarter.
Ciara Ramos led Morro Bay (4-1) with 11 points.
Bakersfield 50, San Luis Obispo 34
San Luis Obispo played without its leading scorer and rebounder, senior forward Hannah Kenny, who sustained a concussion earlier this week.
Still, the Tigers were more than even with the Drillers (7-2) outside of the third quarter, which Bakersfield won 24-6.
“I’m extremely proud of how we played in the first half,” San Luis Obispo coach Mike Godsey said. “It was a courageous effort by some girls who haven’t gotten a lot of time this year.”
Sophomore guard Kaylee Williams led San Luis Obispo (2-5) with 11 points on 7-of-11 free-throw shooting.
“She changes the tone of the game and the personality of this team when she’s that aggressive,” Godsey said.
Chase Kennedy added six points for the Tigers. Keairra White had a game-high 20 for Bakersfield.
Paso Robles 38, Elk Grove 30
Kati Sheldon led the Bearcats (3-2) with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Domenique Terry added eight points and three blocks in the win.
Arroyo Grande 54, Cabrillo 18
Rachel Ventura led all scorers with 14 points, as the Eagles led throughout.
Maddie Carr added eight points for Arroyo Grande, which held the Conquistadores to six or fewer points in every quarter and led 29-7 at halftime.
Thatcher 34, North County Christian 32
At the Bishop Diego Tournament, Cristy Scarson scored a game-high 14 points for the Crusaders (2-3), who shot just 17 percent from the floor.
North County Christian’s Kelsey Paulus had a team-high 14 rebounds.
Tribune staff contributed to this report.