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Feb 08

Morro Bay girls basketball on roll; Hannah Gilbert unstoppable force

The Morro Bay High girls basketball team went 12-0 in the Los Padres League to claim a second consecutive undefeated league title.

The Pirates overpowered their opponents so convincingly that no team came within 25 points of them in a league game.

They figure to do well in playoffs with an ideal combination of players. Morro Bay has the best post player in girls basketball on the Central Coast in Hannah Gilbert.

Gilbert averages 18 points and nine rebounds per game. In addition to her size at 6-3, she has tremendous touch around the basket.

Really, Gilbert is playing out of her league and has been doing so for much of her high school career.

She’ll finally have some competition in terms of size and skill when she plays next year at Cal Poly. And should the Pirates advance deep into the playoffs, she may counter some opposing players of her caliber as well.

In addition to Gilbert, Morro Bay has the fastest point guard in the county. Sierra Schwellenbach averages 10 points, five assists and three rebounds per game.

Schwellenbach hounds opponents with her ball pressure, averaging nearly four steals per contest.

Several times this year, she stole the ball from opponents and streaked down the court for easy layups. Nobody seemed to be able to catch her as hard as they tried.

And then the Pirates have a large cast of players who make valuable contributions in their respective roles under Coach Cary Nerelli who really is a master at getting his team to minimize turnovers and move the ball.

Jerrica Crosby provides another post presence as a power forward and one of the taller girls in the LPL this season. She averages five rebounds per game.

Guards Kara Schmidt and Nikki Machado combine for about 11 points per game and the team averages 50 percent shooting from shots inside the 3-point line while knocking down 32 percent of shots from behind the arc.

At 19-3, Morro Bay currently is ranked eighth in Division 4AA behind seven private schools from the L.A. area.

Early in the season, the Pirates tested themselves against two Division 2 teams from Bakersfield with very respectable talent in their holiday tournament – Garces and Ridgeview.

They lost by nine to Garces and by two to Ridgeview, putting Morro Bay right there with them. Garces is now 22-2 and Ridgeview is 21-3.

Garces is ranked second in the division and Ridgeview is the top-ranked squad, according to www.maxpreps.com.

I don’t want to jinx anything. But this figures to be a promising playoff run ahead for Morro Bay.

Hannah Gilbert had her season-high of 28 points against Lompoc on Wednesday in her LPL finale and seems to be peaking at just the right time.

Hannah seems like a very pleasant person to be around and has a lot of fun playing basketball. I just wouldn’t want to have to face her on the court.

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