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PREP GIRLS BASKETBALL: Versatile Pino lifts Chaparral past Vista Murrieta

03/04/2013, 2:01pm PST
By By MARK E. STRODER For The Californian

MURRIETA — As a 6-foot-3 point forward, Chaparral's Jessica Pino has a pretty good view from most spots on the floor.

MURRIETA — As a 6-foot-3 point forward, Chaparral's Jessica Pino has a pretty good view from most spots on the floor.

On Thursday night, she liked what she saw.

Pino, already established as one of the best players in the Valley, took full advantage of her size and passing skill, scoring 27 points and dishing out eight assists, leading the visiting Pumas to a 57-48 victory over Vista Murrieta.

Chaparral improved to 14-6 and 5-1 in the Southwestern League. The Pumas share first place with Murrieta Valley, whom they defeated on Tuesday.

The Broncos dropped to 8-9, 3-3.

"It feels just as good to get that assist, and help get that layup for the other teammate," said Pino, who also collected 11 rebounds and blocked five shots. "It's about getting your team involved and passing the ball around."

Chaparral trailed, 39-38 after Broncos guard Serafina Maulupe (19 points) nailed a 3-pointer to begin the fourth quarter. But Pino and friends then went to work on both ends of the floor.

A jumper by Ashtyn Kendrick (seven points) gave the Pumas the lead for good at 40-39. Abi Johnston (16 points, six assists, six rebounds) followed with a pair of free throws, then took a pass from Pino and buried a long 3-pointer from her favorite spot on the left wing , giving Chaparral a 47-41 lead with 4:33 remaining.

"One thing that makes her a huge threat is her passing," said Chaparral coach Mike Pino, Jessica's father. "Her court vision, to be able to pass at 6-3 is what makes her difficult to guard.

"If you leave her alone, she can hit the 3. If you guard her up, she's big enough to see the floor and pass the floor to most any player."

Pino, who will play basketball for UC Santa Barbara next season, helped extend the lead with a turnaround jumper, two free throws, a layup, and a clever pass inside to Kali Jones for an easy layup.

All of it helped the Pumas build their lead up to 55-43 with 2:30 left.

"Jessica played a very smart game tonight," Broncos coach Chris Jones said. "She gets her team involved. That's the best game I've personally seen her play against us, and she's had a lot of good ones."

The Broncos made just three field goals in the final quarter, while committing four turnovers. The Pumas drained six of their nine shots in the fourth.

"We let our defense slip a little bit," said Vista Murrieta senior guard Kiara King, who scored 14 points before fouling out with four minutes remaining in the game. "They got a couple of good looks in the post, and we could have helped out a lot more on Pino."

Pino's 14 points in the first two quarters, including five of six from the free throw line, helped keep Chaparral within two points (26-24) at the half.

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