High School Sports

Balanced attack leads Morro Bay girls past Templeton

Morro Bay High junior center Hannah Gilbert rises for a shot over the defense of Lauren Stuedemann of Templeton in Morro Bay on Wednesday. Gilbert finished with a game-high 17 points.
Morro Bay High junior center Hannah Gilbert rises for a shot over the defense of Lauren Stuedemann of Templeton in Morro Bay on Wednesday. Gilbert finished with a game-high 17 points. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

It is easy to look at the Morro Bay High girls basketball team as a one-dimensional figure, especially with 6-foot-3 junior center Hannah Gilbert putting up big numbers night after night and towering over most of the competition.

On Wednesday, the Pirates showed they have other weapons, too.

Though Gilbert powered through with 17 points, she also got support from almost every spot inside the Morro Bay gym. Sophomore guard Sierra Schwellenbach had 15 points on three 3-pointers, and fellow sophomore guard Kara Schmidt came off the bench to knock in four 3s to finish with 13, as Morro Bay won 66-37 over up-and-coming Templeton — a team with an all-sophomore starting lineup.

Last week, the Pirates edged Santa Ynez 37-34 in a matchup featuring last season’s Los Padres League co-champions. On Wednesday, it was a matchup between two previously unbeaten league teams, but Morro Bay (11-3, 4-0) took full control after ending the first half with an 11-0 run, highlighted by a buzzer-beating tip-in by Gilbert to give the Pirates a 36-14 halftime lead.

Templeton (12-6, 3-1), which finished with nine total field goals, couldn’t keep up.

“Everyone contributed,” said Morro Bay coach Cary Nerelli, who played all eight of his players with six of them scoring. “It was hard for the Eagles to concentrate just on Hannah and Sierra. We had other kids step up and I think that made a big difference in the game because several people scored big baskets for us. The points spread around and it caused some defensive problems for them.”

Templeton outscored the Pirates 21-20 in the third quarter, but just two points followed that rally in the fourth. The Eagles’ leading scorer, sophomore point guard Lauren Stuedemann, finished with 10 points, with eight of them from the foul line. Autumn Russell added eight.

Fifteen of Templeton’s points were via free throws, an unusual stat for a team averaging 56.2 points per game.

“We knew they were a good team, so we had to come in with a good mind-set to beat them,” Gilbert said. “We came with a good goal to win.”

And it wasn’t just Gilbert’s goal. Other Pirates got involved, with Nicki Bloom finishing with eight points and Caitlyn Cowardin adding seven despite having three fouls after the first half. Carli Watt rounded out the scoring with six points.

And then there was Schmidt, the reserve who came in and became an immediate 3-point threat. She had a trio of 3s in a span of two minutes in the first half, including one at the 6:19 mark in the second quarter for a 21-6 lead, enough to force Templeton to switch from a zone defense to man-to-man.

“I just came in with a calm and focused attitude,” Schmidt said. “I don’t know, I guess I play better when I do that.”

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