Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s BriAnn Houghton drives to the hoop in Friday’s home-opening victory over the Los Banos Tigers. Houghton scored a game-high 18 points in the win.
After trailing by 12 points at the half, the Madera Coyotes girls basketball team battled back in the second half for a 34-33 victory over the Los Banos Tigers in the home opener in Joe Flores Gym.
The Coyotes outscored the Tigers 23-10 in the second half Friday night. Cathy Figueroa scored the game-winning bucket with less than a minute left in the game and the Coyotes’ defense forced turnovers on Los Banos’ final three possessions.
“They came out in the second half ready to play,” head coach Jason Smith said. “I went up at halftime and told them this wasn’t us. All of the things we talked about on a daily basis in practice, you’re not doing. There’s nothing on God’s green Earth that I can do to make you do them. You have to want to compete and play hard enough to do them on your own or you’re going to lose this basketball game. You see how hard they came out in the second half.”
BriAnn Houghton and Figueroa scored 32 of Madera’s 34 points. Houghton scored 18 points with 15 points coming in the second half. She also pulled down eight rebounds with five on the offensive glass. She recorded three offensive putbacks.
“BriAnn was the player of the game for us tonight,” Smith said. “She made a big impact for us, especially in the second half. She didn’t get in foul trouble. On Tuesday, her teammates came to her rescue. Tonight, she came to theirs. That’s a part of being part of a team.”
Figueroa scored 14 points with four steals.
“Cathy, at the end of that game, willed it,” Smith said. “She panicked with a rush play, but ripped the ball away from the girl and scored. That’s what gave us the lead. She also made the free throws to get close. She’s a money player. Our two best players filled their roles today.”
In a low-scoring first quarter, Los Banos opened the game with three points. Figueroa found Houghton for a layup on an inbounds pass and Figueroa made a layup for a 4-3 lead.
After a Los Banos layup, Figueroa added a free throw for a 5-5 game at the end of the first quarter. Both teams combined for 22 turnovers in the quarter.
Los Banos opened the second quarter with a jumper. After a Houghton free thorw, Los Banos made a layup and two more free throws.
Sayra Chavez found Houghton for a short jumper and cut the lead to three. However, Los Banos hit a 3-pointer and made a free throw to increase the lead to seven. An offensive putback gave the Tigers a 6-0 run.
Figueroa stopped the run with a 3-pointer, but Los Banos scored the final six points of the half for a
Madera came out of the break on fire and scored the first eight points. Figueroa started the run with a 15-foot jumper. Houghton put back a rebound. She then pulled down a defense rebound and started a fast break that Figueroa ended with a layup.
Houghton added a short bucket to cut the Tigers’ lead to 23-19. Los Banos tried back control of the game with a free throw and a 3-pointer for an eight-point lead.
Houghton added a layup, but Los Banos scored a layup of its own. Houghton answered with a short bucket for a 29-23 Tigers’ lead at the end of the third quarter.
Los Banos opened the quarter with a layup. It took Madera five possessions before adding to the scoreboard. Houghton put back a missed shot to cut the lead to six.
Los Banos made a short bucket with about five minutes left in the game. However, it would be the last points the Tigers scored. The Madera defense forced nine turnvoers on Los Banos’ final 11 possessions while the Coyotes closed the game on a 9-0 run.
Katelyn Fernandez started the run with a free throw. Houghton put back a miss while getting fouled. She completed the 3-point play with a free throw.
Aasyria Goins made the front end of a one-and-one for a 33-30 Tigers’ lead with 3:43 left in the game.
Figueroa made two free throws with 1:24 left in the game to cut the lead to one.
With about a minute left in the game, Figueroa drove the lane and tried to put up a shot, but missed. However, she grabbed the ball away from the Los Banos rebounder and put up a short jumper for the bucket and the lead.
Los Banos was called for traveling with 39 seconds left, but forced a jump ball trying to take the ball away from Figueroa with 33 seconds left.
Goins stole the ball away from Los Banos, but, unfortunately, gave it right back with a turnover.
“The call Jason Alexander made to put Aasyria on their best player was the correct call. She shut her down and that was a big turning point in the game.”
Houghton came up with a steal with about five seconds left and ran out the clock for the victory.