Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Cathy Figueroa drives for a layup during the season opener Tuesday. She scored a team-high 16 points in a 55-40 loss to Sierra.
With an absence in team chemistry, the Madera Coyotes girls basketball team suffered a 55-40 loss to the Sierra-Tollhouse Chieftains in its season opener in Joe Flores Gym.
The Coyotes socred just four points in the first quarter and wasn’t able to catch up to the Chieftains, who took a 29-15 halftime lead before closing out the game with a 16-11 fourth quarter.
“We’re a super young team,” head coach Jason Smith said. “We have five sophomores on varsity and all five played significant minutes. It’s a brand new team all the way around. A lot of these kids only play basketball during basketball season. It’s tough to build around that. We’ve already have one with a verbal commitment to softball and a couple more that are pretty close to getting one, too. I’m just glad we got them out here. It’s going to take time to build.”
Cathy Figueroa led the Coyotes with 16 points and seven steals, but she was the only player to score in double figures. Briann Houghton, Kaylee Patlan, Sofia Perez and Stephanie Jordan each scored five points. Patlan pulled down 10 rebounds with six offensive boards while Perez and Houghton had six rebounds.
“Kaylee Patlan is in her second year of playing basketball,” Smith said. “She doesn’t know where she’s going all the time, but she goes hard. She gets rewarded for it. She learns the game better. It’s going to take us the better part of a year to get this group dialed in.”
One of the numbers that Smith didn’t like to see was the team’s 31 turnovers. They had 17 in the first half, which led to a 14-point halftime deficit.
“The most upsetting part about tonight is we got outhustled by a ton,” Smith said. “Only two things we can control is our attitude and effort and our effort was awful tonight. Some of our attitude with losing our focus popped up tonight. We’ve got to fix those two things before we can move forward. At times, we just played basketball.
“If we take the time with a little more patience, and it will take patience with this group to get them to grow together, we’ll surprise some people. We have to fix the effort and attitude issues first before we can move forward.”
After Sierra scored the first four points of the game, Figueroa made a layup to cut the lead to two. Sierra scored five more points before two Houghton free throws.
Sierra closed the quarter with four straight points and six more into the second quarter. Meanwhile, Madera missed 11 straight shots and committed four turnovers.
A Perez free throw moved the Coyotes within 10. However, Madera commited five turnovers on its next six posessions while taking just one shot. Sierra scored six straight points in the run to increase its lead to 16.
Figueroa stopped the run withan offensive putback. Houghton made two free throws to get within 12. Sierra came back with five straight points to go with five Coyote turnovers for a 26-9 lead.
Camile DeAnda found Perez for a layup. However, DeAnda was lost for the game with a knee injury. Sierra then scored three points for a 29-11 lead.
Perez hit Figueroa for a bucket off the inbounds. Jordan got a steal and turned it into a layup for a 29-15 Sierra lead at the half.
Figueroa made a pair of layups, the second after a steal, to cut the Sierra lead to 10. The Chieftains scored six straight points for a 16-point lead.
Jordan hit a 3-pointer, Miranda Solis picked up a steal and Figueroa found Patlan for a layup to cut the lead to 11.
After a Sierra layup, Jordan hit Maddie McNeil for a layup and a 37-26 Sierra lead.
Madera committed turnovers on four straight possessions while Madera forced three turnovers from Sierra, including steals from Celeste Gonzalez and Patlan.
Patlan hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third quarter for a 39-29 Sierra lead.
After Sierra opened the fourth quarter with a layup, Figueroa hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to nine. The Chieftains scored four straight points before Figueroa banked in another 3-pointer to get within 10.
A Solis offensive putback cut the lead to 10 after a Sierra offensive putback. Sierra closed out the final three minutes with eight of the next 11 points. Madera got a free throw from Houghton and a Perez offensive putback in a 55-40 loss.