FRESNO — After entering the fourth quarter with a four-point lead, the Madera Coyotes couldn’t find the basket consistently enough as the Hanford West Huskies attacked the Coyotes’ basket to come away with a 50-48 win at the MLK Highlander Showcase at McLane High School.
“The first time we played this team, we had a disappointing loss, so they played hard and fought all game,” Madera head coach David Lozano said. “They fought their tail off and until the end, so I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Alex Trukki led the Coyotes with 19 points, including a game-high five 3-pointers. Eli Barrios had nine points, Kecian Primes had six and Zach Roque had six.
The Coyotes attacked the Huskies from both long distance and from the paint. Whether it was Barrios putting his head down and attacking the basket, or Trukki forcing his opponents to think twice before giving him any room.
“I would say shooting is more of our strength, but we really challenged our guys to try and get into the paint and they accepted that and didn’t back down. I’m really proud of their effort,” Lozano said.
The Coyotes built a 28-22 halftime lead, but the momentum began to swing in favor of the Huskies. Poor shot selection and turnovers in the final quarter ultimately doomed the Coyotes after a promising start to the game.
“It was a lot about shot selection,” Lozano said. “We wanted our guys to shoot with confidence, so we wanted to use more of the shot clock, but we were just turning the ball over and giving it away. We had three quick turnovers early in the fourth and that didn’t help.”
Madera opened the game strong, outscoring the Huskies 13-7 in the first quarter.
Trukki and Samuel Hass combined for nine of the 13 points. The pair gave Madera a strong initial punch from both inside and outside the paint. The Huskies came into the game with a stronger record, but Madera outplayed their counterparts in the first quarter and that carried over to the second quarter.
The second quarter was all about Trukki. The sharpshooter carried the Coyotes to a 15-13 quarter. Trukki hit three 3-pointers, while also converting two free throws. His ability to move around the court and find space forced the Huskies to gamble on defense in order to get to Trukki’s shot. Not only did it not work, that opened opportunities for other players.
Primes and Roque capitalized on the Huskies’ lack of pressure after they both attacked the Huskies paint. Although they were unable to get the basket, they each took a turn at the charity stripe, converting both attempts.
Madera ended the first half leading 28-22, but the Huskies came out of the break with a new sense of focus.
For the first time in the game, the Coyotes were outscored in the quarter. The Huskies outscored the Coyotes 11-7. Although only a four-point gap, the sudden swing proved to be costly for the Coyotes after the Huskies never let go of their second-half momentum.
Captain Josiah James took over in the second half. Like Trukki in the first, James took his teams fortunes onto hi shoulders in hope of a positive result. Regardless of who was in front of James, he was getting to the basket.
In the second half alone, the junior playmaker went to the free-throw line seven different times, including five trips in the fourth quarter that ultimately doomed Madera.
Although Madera kept a slim 35-31 lead heading into the fourth, the Huskies had the momentum and they proved that only a few minutes into the fourth after they retook the lead. James led all scorers in the quarter with 11 points, almost outscoring the entire Coyotes team in the process.
Along with James, the Huskies relied on Darius Gatson. Gatson scored seven in the third and four in the fourth to help the Huskies push past the finish line.
Madera had the lead in the game, but turnovers, poor shot selection and fouling caused its ultimate downfall.
Barrios and Roque did their best to pump life into the Coyotes offense, but they couldn’t find the same success as they had in the first half. Roque put his body on line early in the final quarter as he saw an opening in the paint and drove straight for the basket. He converted the tough shot but injured himself on the play. His willingness to sacrifice his body pushed the Coyotes, but not far enough as the Huskies continued to answer any shot the Coyotes had.
Trukki connected on a three late and Colt Nelson contributed a layup, but the multiple turnovers and a questionable traveling call on Primes late in the game were too much for Madera to overcome.