Panthers capitalize on dominant first half

The San Joaquin Memorial-Fresno Panthers girls basketball team opened the first half on a 16-5 run and capitalized on the big lead to upend the Madera South Stallions 51-34 in a County/Metro Athletic Conference game at Madera South.

“They just have a lot of athletes on that team that understand the game of basketball,” Madera South head coach Johnny Sharp said. “We’re in the process of learning how to play basketball so I don’t think it was anything in particular. They are just very athletic.”

A combination of tough defense and superior athleticism contributed to the Panthers victory. After the game Friday night, the Panthers moved to 9-0 in the CMAC while the Stallions dropped to 4-5.

Although the Stallion’s found it difficult to get going collectively, senior Lei’Nya Bartlow gave the Stallions all she could. Whether it was breaking the Panther full-court press or creating for her teammates, on a night of mix performances, Bartlow was a constant.

Sharp called it a great performance.

“She’s a senior and we’ve been letting her know she’s got two games and at this point she’s starting to understand this is it,” Sharp said. “Her high school career is over in a couple games, so she played really well.”

Madera South opened their contest against the visiting Panthers and were on the wrong foot early. Bartlow and Aleecia Rosel combined for five points in the quarter, however it was all San Joaquin Memorial.

After a 11-5 first quarter, the Panthers continued to put pressure on Madera South in the second quarter with a 5-0 run to start.

Madera South broke the run after Bartlow boxed out her opponent before grabbing the ball and sprinted down the court. With all the attention on Bartlow, Lexi Eller raced down the court wide open in the paint. Bartlow picked up her head and zipped a pass into Eller for the easy bucket.

The Stallions made good plays throughout the game, however they didn’t make enough to win.

The Panther lead was cut to 16-9 with five minutes left to play.

Everything seemed to go the Panthers’ way. Memorial closed out the first half with a half-court shot to beat the buzzer for a 27-15 halftime lead.

If there was any doubt the Panthers might let Madera South back into the game, it was extinguished after Memorial outscored Madera South 15-7 in the third quarter.

The Stallions points came at the end of the quarter after Bartlow stopped a 15-2 Panther run.

Madera South had a turnaround fourth quarter. They outscored San Joaquin Memorial 12-9 behind four from Rosel and five from Bartlow. The pair provided a spark on the night, however they couldn’t bring the Stallions back.