Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Arthur Flores drives the lane during Friday’s County/Metro Athletic Conference loss.
The Madera Coyotes boys basketball team was upended by County/Metro Athletic Conference rivals San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno 77-56 after the Panthers dominated the first quarter.
“They are a good team to begin with and their length allowed them to get second-chance shots,” Madera Coyotes head coach Mike Hawkins said. “They have several good players, so it caused problems in terms of matchups. We just had problems with their length and athleticism.”
The Coyotes showed promise early after Travon Ray pulled up 10 feet from the basket to give the home team an early lead. The Panthers were able to shake off the Coyotes’ strong start to go on an 8-4 run with less than five minutes remaining in the first quarter.
The home team showed their resiliency in the first quarter after Ray sank a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to one. The Coyotes were able to get back in the game with strong interior defense by Mark Cardoza in the first quarter.
Cardoza used his size and strength to outmuscle his defender to score on his second attempt down in the paint. With two and a half minutes remaining in the quarter the Coyotes were closing in on the visiting Panthers.
After a solid game, Hawkins praised his big man.
“He’s athletic, big and strong for us,” Hawkins said. “He did a really good job stepping up for us.”
The Panthers began to run away with the ball game after the team closed out the first quarter on a 7-2 run then opened the second quarter on a 10-4 run.
The Panthers run was ended after Cardoza showcased his strength to fight through the contact for the easy layup and subsequent free throw. He scored seven points in the quarter to give the Coyotes a go-to scorer.
K’veon Jones hit a 3-pointer with a minute left to give his team some momentum. The Coyotes clawed back in the second quarter after they outscored the Panthers 18-16.
The lead ballooned to 19 points after the Panthers came out of the half red hot.
The Coyotes were able to stop the run after Michael Green sank a pull-up jumper with four minutes left to play. Green continued to dominate with six straight points in the quarter.
The Coyotes showed flashes of a comeback after Arthur Flores and Cardoza contributed on both ends of the court. Flores received the pass on the 3-point arc and connected to cut the deficit to 11 points.
Cardoza recorded his fourth block after he challenged the opposing forward at the rim.
The Panthers went on to close out the Coyotes and win by 21.