SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Senior Nika Bagatelos scored a game-high 26 points to help St. Francis record their first Delta League win of the season with a 55-49 win over Pleasant Grove Friday night.
"We have been talking about roles," said Head Coach Heather Volek Brownholtz. "And God gave her a gift and she shined it tonight. The girls are understanding when you have a gift you share that wealth and we all share the joy of winning. It was a beautiful collective team win."
Bagatelos started strong in the first half with two threes in each of the first two periods to help St. Francis hold on to a 26-24 lead at the half.
"We have been talking about the third quarter all season and taking control," said Bagatelos. "We have to get our flow back after taking a break. We got it done today."
The Troubadours scored 17 in the third, breaking free from a game tied at 26 to take a 42-32 lead as Bagatelos added three triples. Junior Nicole Rivera added a key three-pointer during one stretch.
"Mackenzie has been waiting her turn and she has speed to push the pace," said Brownholtz. "We got in front of the big and the big fouled out. That is what happens when you reach. It is what she does well. I am proud of her stepping up."
St. Francis (8-10, 1-3) struggled with the Pleasant Grove post game from the outset. But an early change in game plan helped the Troubies prevail. Senior Maya Curiale played extended minutes to assist down low with senior Ally Gage against Jada James (15 points) and Katie (Cuneo (12 points), who led the Eagles.
"Ally said I can't hold (the post) and it is a Maya game," said Brownholtz. "As long as I coach that will be a great memory of her leadership. She handed the torch over to Maya and the two of them collectively with Mia in there held post."
St. Francis entered with a five-game losing streak including three games in Delta League play, dropping the first two by a combined nine points after holding late leads and losing the third in overtime. They were hungry to get back in the win column.
"We are a team that has a cross on our chest," said Brownholtz. "Adversity can bring doubt and doubt is the devil. It can also create faith and belief. The last two weeks have been rough but it is a matter of nine points. That is the difference between going 3-0 or going through the adversity that we did. They were all games that could have gone different and we would've felt different. We have a great team and deep bench and anybody can step up."
Bagatelos hit eight three-pointers to record her second 20-point performance of the year and 14th game in double figures. Junior Mia Fleming-Mullins added six points and a team-high 10 rebounds. Le contributed three assists and three steals off the bench, while Curiale had four points and seven boards in her breakout performance.
"They wanted to win more than anything," said Brownholtz.
St. Francis travels to Elk Grove to take on Sheldon on Monday at 7 p.m.
St. Francis 55, Pleasant Grove 49
SF – Bagatelos 26, Fleming-Mullins 6, Lee 5, Pank 4, Gage 4, Curiale 4, Le 3, Rivera 3. PG – James 15, Cuneo 12, Lee 8, McClan 5, Asunum 5, Blakely 4.