A tale of two halves in opener
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera South’s Alannah Ward sizes up a 3-point shot during Monday’s victory over Madera. Ward hit four 3-pointers and scored a team-high 15 points in the win.
The Madera South Stallions girls basketball took the early lead and held on tight at the end because the Madera Coyotes were right on their heels.
The Stallions did just enough in the first half to hold onto a 45-42 victory to open their season against rivals Madera, who were without County/Metro Athletic Conference first- teamer Rhynne Mitchell (ACL) and honorable mention Lilly Smith (concussion.
“I don’t know what happened to our team,” Madera South head coach johnny Sharp said. “We’re not committed to anything we’re teaching. We’re not understanding our basic fundamentals. All we had to do was stay within basic fundamentals and we would have been able to control the game.”
Madera South scored 31 points in the first half behind the sharp shooting of Alannah Ward, who made four 3-pointers for a team-high 15 points.
However, Ward scored just two points in the second half and the Stallions were held to just 14 points. Meanwhile, the Coyotes trailed by 12 at the end of the first half. They outscored the Stallions 23-14 in the second half to make things close. Brianna Lorta added nine points and Jocelyn Barrera scored six of her 11 points in the third quarter for the Stallions.
“We play Madera again on Friday,” Sharp said. “I’m hoping they learn something from it. You can’t rest on we’re going to win just because they have players out. We have to show up and play the game.”
Madera’s Aaliyah String scored a game-high 18 points to go with nine rebounds (eight offensie) and five steals. Brooke Houghton added nine points with eight rebounds and four steals.
“We grew up quite a bit in the fourth quarter,” Madera head coach Jason Smith said. “The first half, you saw a very young varsity team against a very experienced varsity team. We really grew up big, especially in the fourth quarter.”
The Coyotes committed 20 turnovers in the first half, but controlled the tempo better in the second half and committed just nine. Meanwhile, the Stallions had 16 first half turnovers and added 17 in the second half, including 12 in the fourth quarter.
“We committed 12 turnovers, they didn’t force those,” Sharp said. “We don’t understand the game, just yet.”
“We started getting some steals and got some easy buckets in the fourth quarter,” Smith said. “We also stopped throwing the ball away in the second half. This is a good group. We are building blocks. If you keep building those blocks, we’ll get bigger and bigger.”
String opened the scoring with a short jumper, but Mayra Ceballos scored off an inbounds play for the Stallions.
Houghton hit a short jumper and String tunred a steal into a layup for a 6-2 lead.
Ceballos answered with two free throws and Ward hit her first 3-pointer for a 7-6 Stallions’ lead.
String drove to the bucket for two points and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but got her rebound back and put it in for a 10-7 Coyotes’ lead.
The Stallions closed the first quarter with eight straight points. Lorta and Ceballos made free throws and Ward hit a pair of 3-pointers for a 15-10 lead.
String opened the second quarter with a free throw, but Barrera made a layup for a six-point lead.
Ariana Jaramillo and Ward exchanged 3-pointers and a String jumper cut the lead to four.
Lorta hit a 3-pointer for the Stallions, followed by a Jalissa Kirkpatrick rebound that led to a Barrera layup for a 25-16 lead.
The Coyotes got a free throw from Jania Warren and a jumper from String to cut the lead to six.
However, Madera South scored the next six points, beginning with a Lorta layup. Barrera mde a layup and Kirkpatrick hit a pair of free throws for a 31-19 Stallions’ lead at the half.
String and Lorta exchanged free throws to open the third quarter. After a Houghton free throw, Lorta made a layup for a 13-point lead.
Houghton converted a 3-point play to cut the lead to 34-24.
The Stallions closed the quarter on another six-point run — all from Ceballos with a pair of layups and an offensive putback — for a 40-26 lead heading to the fourth quarter.
A Ward free throw extended the run to seven. Warren answered with a turnaround 15-foot jumper, but Ward came back with a jumper.
Ashley Hernandez came up with a steal and turned it into a layup for Madera. String followed with a 15-foot jumper and Jaramillo, off a pass from Hernandez, hit an eight-foot jumper. A free throw by Houghton completed a 7-0 run to cut the lead to 10.
Barrera made a pair of free throws, but String hit a 15-foot jumper to keep the lead at 10 as the Coyotes closed the game with a 9-0 run.
Houghton put back a String miss and Madera South threw out of bounds with 43 seconds left. Warren found Ja’Niah Lee for a layup to cut the lead to six. Madera South turned the ball over again and Lee drained a 3-pointer to cut the lead to 45-42.
However, Madera South was able to inbounds the ball and run out the clock for its first win of the season.