Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera guard Ashley Hansen dribbles the ball up the court in Tuesday’s comeback victory over the San Joaquin Memorial Panthers in Joe Flores Gym.
The Madera Coyote girls basketball team was still struggling to score in the first half of its County/Metro Athletic Conference game against San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno.
However, things started to fall in place for the Coyotes to outscore the Panthers 30-18 in the second half for a 44-39 victory Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym. After shooting just 28 percent on Friday against Bullard, the Coyotes shot just 17 percent (5-of-29) from the field in the first half against the Panthers and trailed 21-14 at the half.
“We didn’t play poorly in the first half,” head coach Jason Smith said. “We shot poorly in the first half and we threw some bad shots up. We weren’t shooting the ball, we were throwing it up, hoping it would go in. I told them at halftime this is our house. This is ridiculous. This isn’t going to happen again. You’re going to pop the lid off the basket and start putting the ball in the hole.”
The Coyotes got on track in the second half, outscoring the Panthers 17-4 in the third quarter while shooting 52 percent (12-of-23) from the field in the second half. They also were 4-of-8 from 3-point range in the second half and sank 8-of-11 free throws.
“Our defense was solid,” Smith said. “They got a little run on us in the second quarter. I told them we don’t panic. We’re a veteran team and we have to stay in the flow of the game. We brought up the Patriots about just staying the course and playing our brand of basketball. We also talked about picking up the pressure. We made them make poor decision.”
Alyssa Burton led the Coyotes with 17 points and nine rebounds. Ashley Hansen added 11 points and Brianna Rubalcaba scored 10.
“It all came down to making baskets,” Smith said. “Our defense was great. We just have to put the ball in the hoop. In the second half, we finally did that and the result was what it was.”
After Burton started off the scoring with a short bucket, Bullard scored five straight points. Hansen scored on a driving bucket and Rubalcaba hit Burton for a short jumper for a 6-5 lead.
The Knights closed the quarter with four points for a 9-6 lead while the Coyotes missed five straight shots.
Bullard opened the second quarter with a free throw. The Coyotes scored the next five points with a Janessa Fernandes free throw, a Hansen driving bucket and a Burton layup for an 11-10 lead.
Bullard added two free throws to retake the lead, but Burton tied the score with a free throw.
Hansen made two free throws to take the lead, but Bullard tied the score at 14. The Knights closed the half with a layup, two free throws and a 3-pointer for a 7-0 run. Meanwhile, the Coyotes missed 11-of-13 shots and missed all five 3-point attempts.
Rubalcaba found Burton for a short bucket and Bullard came back with an offensive putback. Rubalcaba hit a runner to cut the lead down to five. However, Madera turned the ball over on four straight possessions while Bullard extended the lead to seven.
Madera then went on a 13-0 run to close the quarter. Burton started the run with a layup. Then, Maria Hernandez was fouled hard going to the hoop. She had to leave the game, but Alexis Carmona stepped in to make two free throws. Rubalcaba then found Burton for a layup and Rubalcaba hit a 3-pointer for a 27-25 third quarter lead.
Off back-to-back steals from Carmona, Burton made two free throws and banked in a 15-foot jumper for a 31-25 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Madera turned the ball over on back-to-back fourth quarter possessions while Bullard made two buckets to cut Madera’s lead to two.
Power forward Ximena Escobar was left wide open and drained a 3-pointer to open a 34-29 lead.
Bullard battled back to make back-to-back offensive rebound putbacks to cut the lead to one. Bullard added a free throw for a 35-34 lead with five minutes left in the game.
Hansen hit a 3-pointer and then stole the ball from Bullard for an easy layup and a 39-35 lead with four minutes left in the game.
Rubalcaba answered a Bullard layup with a 3-pointer to get the lead to six. After a Bullard offensive foul, Rubalcaba scored on a driving layup for a 44-37 lead with 1:43 left in the game.
Bullard scored with a minute left to cut the lead to five, but that was all the scoring in the game.
Madera took possession and missed its next shot. On Bullard’s next possession, guards Hansen and Hernandez recorded blocked shots and the ball went out of bounds with 32.8 seconds left in the game.
On the inbounds, Burton provided the defense and forced a bad shot. Hernandez came down with a rebound and the ball was hit out of bounds for the Coyotes.
Madera threw the ball away on the inbounds, but Memorial missed a short jumper and missed the offensive rebound. Hernandez came down with another rebound, but was tied up for a jump ball with Madera holding possession.
Bullard was forced to foul and finally sent the Coyotes to the free throw line with 5.9 seconds left in the game. Rubalcaba intentionally missed her free throw and Bullard’s final shot was caught by Burton for a Coyote victory.