Coyote comeback falls just short
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune Madera’s Travon Ray goes up for a rebound during Friday’s loss to the McLane Highlanders at the Madera South Tournament.
When the halftime buzzer sounded, the Madera Coyote boys basketball team found itself tailing by 15 points.
However, the Coyotes came back to tie the game and take a fourth quarter lead against the McLane-Fresno Highlanders before the Highlanders scored the final five points for a 69-64 victory Friday at the Madera South Tournament.
“We made adjustments defensively,” head coach Michael Hawkins said. “After the first quarter, we actually started to handle the pressure. Defensively, we were giving away too many easy buckets. We talked defensively about being tougher, stepping up and playing with more intensity.”
The Coyotes closed the tournament with an easy 68-27 victory over the Chowchilla Tribe.
With an injury to point guard Michael Green, Travon Ray stepped up with a game-high 20 points, including going 9-for-9 from the free throw line.
However, Green helped out in settling the tempo and working the Coyotes out of the McLane press, which forced 15 turnovers in the first half. After Green controlled the game, the Coyotes committed just seven turnovers in the second half.
“Michael is usually a scorer for us,” Hawkins said. “He was contributing in a way to be a facilitator for us. He controlled the tempo, was strong with the ball. He stepped up huge for us.”
Mark Cardoza dominated the third quarter rally and was second on the team with 19 points to go with nine rebounds.
“Mark is one of our stronger, longer guys,” Hawkins said. “He’s beginning to realize how big he can be. They had trouble guarding him and he went to work.”
K’Veon Jones added 14 points with six rebounds and two 3-pointers.
The Coyotes got off to the early start. Ray made a driving layup, followed by a 3-pointer from Jones and a Hartley bucket off a Ray assist.
However, Madera’s 7-0 lead lasted for about five minutes when the Highlanders scored 11 straight points to take the lead while taking advantage of four turnovers.
After Cardoza made two free throws, McLane scored six straight points off three straight Madera turnovers to open the lead to 10.
Jones made a free throw and Ray made a layup to cut the lead to seven, but McLane added a bucket at the end of the quarter for a 21-12 lead.
The Highlanders continued the run to 10-0 in the second quarter while scoring off three Madera turnovers for a 28-12 lead.
Madera got buckets from Ricardo Bueno and Law with two free throws from Ray to get to 12. Villegas hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 10, but McLane answered with a 3-pointer of its own. The Highlanders added a free throw for a 15-point lead.
Jones hit a 3-pointer and made three free throws, but McLane opened the lead to 17 before taking a 15-point lead into the half.
The Coyotes started to chip away at the lead to open the third quarter with short buckets from Jones and Cardoza. The Highlanders couldn’t find the bucket with Madera recording five defensive rebounds in the first two minutes of the half.
The Highlanders scored back-to-back layups to get the 15-point lead back.
Then, the Coyotes went on an 8-0, 16-2 run to cut the lead to one by the end of the third quarter.
Cardoza started the run with a short bucket. Then, Villegas found Cardoza for a layup. Cardoza put back a Villegas miss and Raeshaun Hill put back another Villegas miss for a 50-43 McLane lead.
After two McLane free throws, Cardoza put back a miss to get the lead down to seven. Cardoza made a free throw and a short bucket. Ray closed out the quarter with a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 52-51 McLane lead.
McLane opened the fourth quarter with two free throws. The Coyotes came back with a free throw from Stetson Nelson, two more from Ray and a steal and layup from Jones to grab a 56-54 lead with 6:40 left in the fourth.
McLane tied the game with an offensive putback. They added a free throw and another bucket for a three-point lead.
Jones made a driving bucket to cut the lead to one. Then, Ray drove to the hoop and was fouled. He made the bucket and free throw for the 3-point play for a 61-49 lead with 3:47 left in the quarter.
Neither team scored until Cardoza made a free throw for a 62-59 lead with 2:06 left in the game.
However, McLane immediately tied the game with a 3-pointer. The Highlanders took the lead with a layup with 1:33 left.
Ray made two free throws with 50.2 seconds left to tie game, but McLane scored with a layup to regain the lead. After a Coyote miss, McLane made three out of four free throws in the final 10.7 seconds for a 69-64 victory.