East County Sports

Tradition-rich Sultans get first playoff win since ’11

The Santana Sultans following their playoff win over visiting Monte Vista on Tuesday night in Santee. / photo by TRyan Photography




By Ramon Scott



Santana’s KOBIE HOLLAND prepares to go up with a shot Tuesday night. / photo by TRyan Photography

SANTEE – Postseason-rich Santana won in the playoffs for the first time in six years, holding off Monte Vista, 46-43, in an East County elimination battle in the opening round of the San Diego CIF Division 3 tournament Tuesday night.

Now, brimming with confidence, the sixth-seeded Sultans (16-11) have a formidable foe in front of them in defending section division champion Grossmont, but can boast the fact that they beat the third-seeded Foothillers on the road back on Jan. 11.

In the win over the Monarchs, Sultans center SIERRA SIMANEK scored 23 points and guard JANICE DEGUERIO beat the buzzer for a three at halftime to send the teams into the locker room even at 23-all.

Deguerio’s heave got the crowd whoopin’ and hollering, nailing her shot just moments after the Monarchs’ TAYLOR YOUNG buried a momentum-swinging three of her own.

“At the end of practice, coach lets us goof around and practice our half-court shots,” Deguero said. “With one second on the clock, I just had to get down there and shoot it.

“Winning this game is the highlight of my career, but that shot was definately a highlight in this game. It got us pretty excited going into halftime.”

The Monarchs were menacing early, stripping the ball from several Sultans, but only converted a few trips into transition scores.

Monte Vista’s main trio of SARA TAHA, ELAYNA MEDRANO and Young scored a series of first-quarter buckets to counter the inside play of Simanek.

Santana’s SIERRA SIMANEK throws a pass during the Sultans’ playoff win. / photo by TRyan Photography

Early in the second quarter, Simanek drove the lane, drew the foul and converted the free throw into a 15-11 lead. She had nine points at halftime.

Then in the third, Simanek got out on the break looking like a guard, handling the ball for a stop-and-pop from 15 feet to keep Santana in front 29-26.

“We needed to pin them either up high or down low and use our strengths to our advantage,” Simanek said. “We weren’t doing that in the first half, but coach got us reminded that we have to do that and it paid off after the half.”

MANDI STABLEIN added a hoop moments later for a 31-26 lead, forcing a Monarchs’ time out.

The Sultans eventually ran up the biggest lead of the game at 40-29 around midway through the third.

Simanek controlled the glass inside, as early in the fourth she grabbed three of Santana’s four consecutive offensive boards on the same possession before tossing in an 8-footer for a 40-35 advantage.


Young canned a pair of free throws for Monte Vista (14-13) to have them creep back to within 43-41 with 3:15 remaining. Medrano finished with 12 points for the Monarchs, as well.

JANICE DEGUERO, of Santana, passes the ball Tuesday night. / photo by TRyan Photography.

One area the Sultans struggled in on Tuesday evening was at the free-throw line.

In fact, the Sultans’ were downright miserable when standing at the stripe, going just 4-for-24.

Young, who had 12 points at halftime, scored 10 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter to pace the Monarchs’ upset bid.

Young, meanwhile, shot in stark contrast to the Sultans, calmly canning 10-of-11 from the charity stripe.

Santana defeated Monte Vista earlier in the year in the same fashion, according to Santana coach LARRY CLARK.

Now, the Sultans get another shot at the Foothillers, which they dispatched 52-49 in the earlier meeting behind 19 points from ZOE SHIBLEY.

Shibley had a pair of threes earlier in the game on Tuesday night and had a key bucket in the fourth.


“We have to be mentally prepared against Grossmont,” Simanek said. “We’ve gone up against them so much and lost that they get into our heads before the game, but after we finally beat them, it finally gave us a lot of confidence.”

Monte Vista possesses the ball against Santana Tuesday night in Santee. / photo by TRyan Photography

The Foothillers’ CANDACE HENDERSON, coming off a pair of strong games last week, scored 20 in the first meeting with the Sultans.

“We came in nervous because we had lost to (Grossmont) last season,” Deguero said.

“But when we slowed things down and got our confidence going, we were able to able to execute against a very tricky team.”

Following their own win over another East County foe Steele Canyon Tuesday night, the Foothillers were already looking ahead to the rematch.


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