SALIDA — Minus two starters and a top reserve, Modesto Christian High unleashed point guard Brandi Henton on Tuesday night.
The junior directed the offense, finished fast breaks and scored a season-high 25 points to lead the top-ranked small-school Crusaders over No. 4 Bret Harte 64-20.
Coach Robb Spencer hopes his Crusaders (7-6) can use the lopsided win — they led 25-4 after a quarter — to build some consistency as they prepare for the Trans-Valley League.
MC had gone 3-3 in its previous six games, without winning two in a row. After playing Amador (0-14) on Friday, the Crusaders host No. 2-ranked Linden in a Jan. 16 showdown.
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"We were putting a body on them underneath and they didn't get many second-chance shots," said Spencer, whose club held a 34-22 rebounding edge. "I have to be pleased with the way our kids played. They took advantage of their opportunity."
With Stefani Agostini and all-Stanislaus District forward Taryn Garza out with injuries, 5-9 freshman Valerie Moore and 6-foot sophomore Danielle Thompson stepped in.
They combined to go 8 for 10 from the floor and 5 for 7 from the line, for 23 points. Moore had two treys and each had six rebounds.
They kept the Bullfrogs from focusing all of their defensive effort on Henton, who had 15 points in the first half. She also grabbed nine rebounds, and about the only flaw in her game was missing her four 3-point shots.
"Her shot has been up and down this season, but so has everyone's," said Spencer, whose club has played a rigorous preseason schedule. "We'll have Taryn and Stefani back for Linden."
MC's used zone and man defenses, overplaying Bret Harte (8-6) at every opportunity. The aggressive tactic forced the Bullfrogs to miss 16 of their 17 shots in the first half.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, were 17 of 31 from the floor and 7 of 9 from the line while cruising to a 41-7 halftime advantage.
Bee staff writer Richard T. Estrada can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2300.