Courtesy of Chris Cross
Seven Madera South seniors were honored before Wednesday’s home finalé. From left are Lexi Eller, Shayla Lopez, Braya Walker, head coach Johnny Sharp, Jackie Cortez, Angel Ortega, Alejandra Cortes and Briseida Vasquez.
The Madera South girls basketball team pulled away in the second half to beat Sanger 55-41 at home on Senior Night.
“We were doing better on our defense and that’s what helped us win tonight,” Madera South senior Jackie Cortez said Wednesday. “The effort was just amazing from every teammate.”
Cortez and Lexi Eller came out on fire from the start, each knocking down two 3-pointers in the first four minutes to give the Stallions a 12-6 lead. As the Stallions cooled off, however, the Apaches managed to cut the lead to 12-9 at the end of the first quarter.
With the Apaches threatening to take the lead early in the second quarter, Arelis Chavez scored back-to-back buckets to keep the Stallions ahead. With four minutes left in the second quarter, Sanger’s Natalia Herrera drained a 3-pointer to tie the game.
The Apaches then took a 20-18 lead. Chavez followed up with two free throws to, once again, tie the game.
After a long drought, Chavez’s putback gave the Stallions a 22-20 lead. The Apaches scored a 3-pointer in the final seconds of the first half to take a 23-22 lead into the break.
Cortez drained another 3-pointer early in the third quarter to tie the game at 25. The senior then added a bucket inside to give the Stallions a 27-25 lead.
Eller continued to show her full skillset in the third quarter. The senior dribbled the full length of the court to score a bucket while getting fouled, then connected on a 3-pointer to give the Stallions a 34-25 lead. Cortez followed up with two more 3-pointers, extending the lead to 13 points going into the fourth quarter.
Madera South coach Johnny Sharp said his team’s defense was much better in the second half.
“They do a good job of turning the corner, but everytime they turn we have that extra player there,” Sharp said. “They finally started to understand it.”
A steal and a fastbreak basket by Jonese Feliu gave the Stallions a 15-point lead to begin the final period. The gap grew to 17 before the Apaches cut it 12 points. But that was as close as the visitors could get before the final buzzer.
Cortez added two more free throws in the final seconds, finishing the game with 21 points.
“My coach always tells me ‘shooters shoot,” Cortez said. “I like to keep that in mind. If I see the shot I like, I’ll take it.”
While they’re happy with the win, the Stallions are looking to put together a more complete game in their upcoming matches.
“We have to come hard in the first quarter,” Eller said. “We can’t stand around and let them in the game in the second quarter. Devour them and kill them. That’s how we have to win.”
Eller added 11 points in the win.
“First quarter, we weren’t playing defense, but then we just came together and started getting each other’s man and our defense pretty much did it,” Eller said. “Then, our offense just kept going with it.”