Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Michael Hartley leans in for two of his team-high 10 points in a tough loss to Bullard on Wednesday.
The Madera Coyotes boys basketball team was unable to match the tempo of County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals Bullard-Fresno after the Coyotes were outscored 40-31 in the first half of a 68-63 loss.
“I thought our guys gave a tremendous effort,” head coach Mike Hawkins said. “They do a tremendous job pressuring the ball and the game was going back and forth and we just kept playing the next possession. We had a couple turnovers here and there, but again our effort kept us in the game.”
The Coyotes were led by K’veon Jones and Michael Hartley, who both scored 10 points.
It was an even contest after the score read 21-21 at the end of the quarter. The Coyotes had the upper-hand halfway through the first quarter after they punished the Knights for a 4-0 run. Mark Cardoza was fouled by the Knight defender and sank his two free throws to give the Coyotes a one-point lead.
The Knights separated themselves from the Coyotes in the second quarter when they harassed the Coyotes into multiple defensive miscues.
Hawkins stated after the game that the change in tempo affected the team and the boys would be working to fix it.
“We’re just kind of working on those plays that got us caught in their tempo,” Hawkins said. “So being able to run at our own speed will help us with turnovers and being more consistent offensively.”
The Coyotes were down by two points after Hartley froze his defender and was able to score. Unfortunately, the Coyotes were unable to continue their up-tempo play after the Knights picked their pocket on consecutive possessions in the second quarter.
The Coyotes fell behind after the Knights scored six unanswered points to lead 40-31 at the end of the first half.
The Coyotes rebounded in the third quarter when their effort and hustle led to consecutive stops. The Coyotes capitalized on their opponents miscues when Travon Ray pulled up from 15 feet to cut the deficit.
The Coyotes outscored the Knights 14-9 in the third quarter. The team rode a 6-0 run to get themselves back into the game.
The fourth quarter provided some excitement after Arthur Flores opened the quarter connecting from long range and attacking the rim for five quick points.
The Knights and Coyotes battled back and forth throughout the fourth quarter. The Coyotes were in the game late until the Knights stole the ball and increased their lead to six points.
Although the Coyotes were able to get a few points back, the Knights were able to dribble the clock out for the divisional win.