Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Lexi Eller shots for two of her game-high 22 points in a 45-33 win over Madera on Friday.
A combination of outside shooting to go with trap pressure defense led the Madera South Stallions girls basketball team to its second straight victory over the Madera Coyotes.
Lexi Eller hit all six of Madera South’s 3-pointers to lead all scorers with 22 points, while the Stallions forced 27 turnovers in a 45-33 victory Friday to complete the first round of the County/Metro Athletic Conference.
“We fought back hard,” Madera head coach Jason Smith said. “We ran out of juice a little bit. The tale of the game was the 3-point arc.”
Madera South used a 15-2 run in the third and fourth quarter to separate itself from the Coyotes on the backs of its half-court trap defense, which forced the Coyotes into 15 second half turnovers.
“In the past, with that defense, we had to go soft and keep it in front of them because the girls wouldn’t go hard,” Madera South head coach Johnny sharp said. “In practice, we changed it. We said it’s not our style. We have to pressure. Tonight, they were willing to work.”
Aleecia Rosel added 12 points for the Stallions to go with a team-high eight rebounds. However, Rosel and Eller combined for 34 of the team’s 45 points (75 percent) and were the only players to score in the first half.
BriAnn Houghton and Cathy Figueroa led the Coyotes with 12 points each. Houghton added eight rebounds. Madeleine McNeil added eight points with nine rebounds and Sofia Perez led the team with 10 rebounds.
“Madeleine has played great off and on throughout the season, but it’s how her knee feels,” Smith said. “If her knee is not in too much pain, she gives us more than she can. She rebounded well, went up strong and finished. We’re a young team and we looked like it at times tonight. We’re also not a deep team. That really hurt us tonight.”
The two teams battled close in the first quarter. Figueroa hit Madera’s lone 3-pointer and found Houghton for a layup and an 8-4 lead.
Eller hit her first 3-pointer to cut the lead to one, but Figueroa converted a 3-point play. Eller closed the first quarter scoring with another 3-pointer and Madera South trailed 11-10.
From there, the Stallions opened the second quarter on a 13-0 run. In the run, Madera missed 10 shots and committed six turnovers.
Eller continued her hot shooting with a pair of 3-pointers. Rosel hit a 12-footer and made two free throws for a 20-11 lead midway through the second quarter.
Kaylee Patlan made a layup and Figueroa found Perez for a layup to cut the lead to five. Eller followed with a layup and Figueroa closed the first half with a steal and layup for a 22-17 Madera South lead.
Neither team scored for the first three minutes of the second half until Miranda Solis hit a 12-foot jumper for the Coyotes. A layup by Houghton gave the Coyotes a 10-2 run and cut the Stallions’ lead to one.
“Anytime we get outside our basic fundamentals, we have a propensity to let teams come back,” Sharp said. “As long as we stayed in those basic fundamentals, we were working it.”
Rosel made two free throws and Figueroa found McNeil for a layup to keep the lead at one.
Eller closed the third quarter with a pair of 3-pointers and Taylor Rogers made a layup to give the Stallions a 32-23 lead.
Eller found Rogers for another layup and Emily Montoya made a free throw for an 11-0 run to open a 35-23 Stallions’ lead.
“We ask Cathy to do almost everything — guard their best player, which she did a good job of in the second half, handle the ball the majority of the time,” Smith said. “We turned the ball over and she was just wiped out. She needed a breather and we didn’t get it to her fast enough and long enough. They wanted it worse than we did and it showed.”
McNeil stopped the run with a putback. However, the Stallions got back-to-back steal and layups from Rosel and Eller to get the lead to 39-25.
McNeil made a layup and a free throw and Figueroa turned a rebound into a layup to cut the lead to 39-30.
Madera South put the game away midway through the fourth quarter with a short bucket from Arelis Chavez and a layup from Montoya for a 43-30 lead.
Madera tried to come back, but missed three straight shots and turned the ball over three times.
The Coyotes couldn’t take advantage of Madera South trying 3-pointers and missing. The Stallions missed six straight 3-point shots in the fourth quarter.
Patlan made a free throw with 2:25 left in the game and Figueroa made a jumper, but the Coyotes couldn’t do any more. Rosel closed the scoring with a jumper with 40 seconds left.