Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Janessa Fernandes works to drive past an Immanuel defender during Thursday’s loss at the Madera Shootout in Joe Flores Gym.
After winning last year’s Div. III Valley Championship, Madera Coyotes girls basketball coach Jason Smith knew he was going to have some growing pains this season.
With the veteran group graduated, the Coyotes return just one player who was in the playing rotation and two others who also received playing time.
Trying to mesh the players together and find their own identity has been Smith’s goal in the early season.
After a Thursday loss to Immanual in the Madera Shootout, the Coyotes defeated Firebaugh on Friday and defeated Mendota on Saturday in Joe Flores Gym.
Against Immanuel, the Coyotes fell behind from the start, trailing 16-6 at the end of the first quarter. Both teams scored eight in the second quarter, but Immanuel outscored the Coyotes 17-9 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Camile DeAnda led the Coyotes with nine points. Janessa Fernandes had six.
Madera opened the scoring barrage with a 69-47 victory Friday against Firebaugh.
The Coyotes shot 42 percent from the field, including 43 percent in the second half. They outscored the Eagles 38-21 in the second half.
Four Madera players scored in double figures, led by Fernandes with 14 points. Madelein McNeil, Alyssa Fernandez and BriAnn Houghton each scored 10 points. Sofia Perez, DeAnda and Grace Castellanos each scored six points while 10 players scored for the Coyotes.
The Coyotes led by eight with 34 seconds left in the first half. The Eagles hit 3-pointers to close out the first half and open the second half to cut Madera’s lead to 31-29.
Madera then went on a 24-3 run into the fourth quarter to put the game away. Fernandez made a layup off an assist from Lexi Carmona. DeAnda found Perez for a layup, Castellanos put back a rebound and Fernandez hit a runner for an 8-0 run.
McNeal scored down low to get the lead to 12 on a 10-0 run. Firebaugh made a free throw and a layup, but the Coyotes finished the quarter on an 8-0 run — two driving buckets from Fernandes, an offensive putback from McNeil and a layup from Fernandez — to open a 49-32 lead.
Fernandez opened the fourth quarter with a bucket and Houghton put back a miss. Perez put back another miss to open the lead to 55-32 and finish off a 24-3 run during Madera’s biggest margin of victory of the season.
The Coyotes closed out the tournament with a 42-40 victory to the Mendota Aztecs.
The Coyotes led by two after the first quarter, but the Aztecs chipped at the lead before the Coyotes outscored the Aztecs 17-14 in the fourth quarter.
Fernandes scored eight of her team-high 14 points in the fourth.