Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Alyssa Burton goes up for a bucket during a County/Metro Athletic Conference victory over Bullard.
The Madera Coyote girls basketball team capitalized on a dominant first half to defeat County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals Bullard-Fresno, 40-31.
“I thought we started off great tonight, the effort was good all night,” head coach Jason Smith said. “Now we just got to consistently play well the whole game and not let a few calls bother us.”
The Coyotes opened the game from long range when Brianna Rubalcaba hit a 3-pointer to give the Coyotes a hot start. She scored five of her eight points in the first quarter to help the Coyotes jump out to an early 7-0 lead, which the team rode to the end of the game.
Although the Coyotes suffered multiple offensive hiccups in the second half, they pulled out the conference victory. Smith noted that his team would be focused on fixing those errors in future practice sessions.
“We have to work on passing the basketball against pressure,” Smith said. “We’ve got to work on creating open shots for other people and making the appropriate passes along with being strong with it.”
Alyssa Burton established herself into the game with an easy finish in the paint with seven minutes remaining in the first quarter. Rubalcaba found her teammate after she dribbled around her defender to open up the passing lane.
The Knights started off slow due to a combination of poor shot selection and tough defense by the Coyotes. Rubalcaba showed her defensive prowess after she saved her team two points when she ran down the opposing guard for a chase-down block.
The Coyotes continued their dominance in the second quarter when Maria Hernandez flashed her quickness after she flew past her defenders to set up Ximena Escobar. Escobar received the accurate chest pass and finished the layup just before halftime. Escobar contributed five points in the game.
The Coyotes were up 27-14 at the break after the Knights were unable keep up.
The Knights came out of halftime and were able to harass the Coyotes into multiple turnovers. Although the Knights were unable to capitalize on the miscues, the Coyotes sloppy play didn’t do them any favors.
The Coyotes calmed themselves down towards the end of the quarter after Rubalcaba was able to create the foul and head to the free-throw line where she split a pair of foul shots.
Any doubts that existed for the Coyotes were put to rest after the team was able to dominate the Knights in the fourth quarter.
Rubalcaba and Burton connected on back-to-back full-court passes to go back up by double digits with four minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The Coyotes capitalized on poor defense to score seven unanswered points to win the game.