Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Alyssa Burton drives to the hoop to score two of her game-high 10 points in Tuesday’s playoff win. She scored 22 points in two playoff games this week.
The Madera Coyotes girls basketball team defended its No. 2 seed with honor this week, taking down No. 15 Mendota and No. 10 Tulare Union in the Div. III girls basketball playoffs in Joe Flores Gym.
The Coyotes advanced to a second straight Div. III semifinal game after a 48-30 victory over Tulare Union on Thursday. Madera opened the playoffs with a 46-30 first round victory over Mendota. The Coyotes will next host No. 3 Golden Valley-Bakersfield on Tuesday.
“Finally, in the second half, my team showed up,” Smith said after Thursday’s victory. “In the first half, our defense was great. I think we are one of the best defensive teams in the valley. In the second half, we really did a good job of finishing. The first half, we were playing well, but weren’t finishing.”
However, on Tuesday, the Coyotes overcame a 0-for-15 shooting slump to open the game for the playoff victory.
“Our defense was solid,” Smith said. “We got into a little bit of a rhythm at the end of the first quarter. I left my starters in a little longer to try to get into that rhythm. I don’t think we got going completely. We got some spits and spurts, but that’s not going to get it done in the playoffs.”
Against Tulare, Alyssa Burton led the Coyotes with 12 points to go with seven rebounds. Ashley Hansen added 10 points with seven rebounds. Ximena Escobar scored seven points with 10 rebounds and Brianna Rubalcaba also had seven points to go with four steals.
“The key is, the next two games, we have to play four quarters of basketball like that half and that will get us to where we want to be,” Smith said.
The Coyotes used a 6-0 lead midway through the first quarter to take control of the game with layups from Rubalcaba and Escobar and a teardrop jumper from Hansen.
The Coyotes got a 3-pointer from Hansen and a layup from Lexi Carmona for a 20-9 lead and went into the half leading 23-13 after a Hansen 3-pointer.
“At halftime, each coach said their piece,” Smith said. “It’s such a nice luxury to have quality individuals who have been here to each say something different. I think Joe Valero drove home the point really well. ‘We keep repeating ourselves as coaches and you keep playing the same as players. It’s time to quit playing the same tune and do the things we tell you to do.’ We did that in the second half.”
The Coyotes opened the second half on a 13-0 run to put the game out of reach. After a Tulare bucket to open the scoring, Madera got back-to-back layups from Burton and Escobar. Rubalcaba drained a 3-pointer and hit Burton in the post for another easy bucket. Maria Hernandez made a free throw and steadied in a 3-pointer for a 36-15 lead.
After a Tulare 3-pointer, Alyssa Fernandez made two free throws for a 38-18 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
The Coyotes opened the lead to 22 after two free throws each from Fernandez and Hernandez. Burton made back-to-back buckets from the post to open Madera’s biggest lead of the game at 46-20 after an 8-0 run.
No. 2 Madera 46, No. 15 Mendota 30
After shooting just 20 percent from the field in the first half, the Coyotes shot 40 percent from the field in the second half and took control in a victory over the Mendota Aztecs on Tuesday in Joe Flores Gym.
“Early on, I thought we were getting good looks,” Smith said. “We were rushing and throwing the ball up, hoping it would go in.”
Three Coyotes scored 10 points, led by Burton, who also had 12 rebounds, seven of them offensive, with six steals and three blocks. Rubalacaba also scored 10 with three steals and Hansen hit double figures to go with five steals.
Hernandez and Escobar added six points each.
Freshman Briann Houghton added two points and junior varsity call-up Sofia Perez scored two points.