Coyotes get shortened victory
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Madera’s Ashley Hernandez drives to the hoop during Friday’s victory over Justin Garza. Hernandez scored four points and pulled down six rebounds in the win.
In a game that saw the Madera Coyotes girls basketball team have two players injured and five players left to play, the Coyotes had enough to record a 36-19 shortened victory over the Justin Garza Guardians in Joe Flores Gym.
With five minutes left in the game, Madera’s Eliana Jaramillo had a free lane for a layup. A Garza player two-handed pushed Jaramillo from behind and into the Joe Flores Gym padded wall. Jaramillo was injured and couldn’t continue. The Garza player was ejected from the game, thus leaving Garza with five players.
The Garza coach called the game at that point, giving the Coyotes a 36-19 County/Metro Athletic Conference victory Friday night.
Point guard Rhynne Mitchell was unable to play and guard Lilly Smith left the game at halftime, leaving the Coyotes with just seven players. After Jaramillo was injured, Breann West sank both free throws, and the game was called for a much-needed Coyotes’ victory.
“You saw a group of young players taking a big step towards growing up and maturing,” Smith said. “We went over the 2-3 zone the other day in practice. We were flying around and talking. Tonight, we had the most communication we’ve had all year. We had people flying around covering what they could. They fought. I told them this game is going to come down to making free throws, wanting it more than they do. You’re not going to rest because we’re short on players and they are going to have to be tough. We’ve lacked in those areas, at times. Tonight, they kept fighting and I was super proud of them.”
Smith’s team, which doesn’t have a senior, was resilient from the opening tip with every player that played getting into the scoring column.
Brooke Houghton led the Coyotes with 13 points. Aaliyah String and Ashley Hernandez added five points each.
At the end of the evening, the Guardians, who started the game with eight players, had two players foul out and one ejected, leaving them with five players. They also were hit with 27 personal fouls before the game was called.
Madera took 31 free throws, and made 19 (61 percent).
“We’ve been talking about four words that equal a big one — maturity, staying focused, staying under control and fundamentals — and that equals consistency,” Smith said. “We’ve been working on developing consistency since Christmas. That’s what you saw tonight.”
Off the opening tip, String found Houghton for a layup.
After Garza hit a 3-pointer, Hernandez tied the score with a free throw. The Guardians added a short jumper, but Houghton converted a 3-point play with about three minutes left for a 6-5 lead.
Both teams couldn’t find the bucket the rest of the way for a one-point Coyote lead into the second quarter.
Despite a pair of turnovers to open the second, Madera’s Jania Warren extended the Coyote lead with a layup.
Lilly Smith and Mariah Taddei made free throws, String scored down low and Hernandez made a highlight-worthy reverse layup after a drive and temporarily losing the ball after hitting it off her opponents’ head. Hernandez’s layup gave the Coyotes a 14-5 lead after an 11-0 run.
Garza closed the second quarter with a layup and a free throw to cut the lead to 14-8 at the half.
String put back a miss to open the second half scoring and extend Madera’s lead to eight.
The Guardians answered with a 3-pointer, but the Coyotes went to the free throw line to score the next three points. Brooke Houghton made two free throws and String added another midway through the quarter for a 19-11 lead.
Madera kept the run going from the free throw line, extending it to 6-0. Jaramillo made a pair and Hernandez made another for a 22-11 lead.
Then, the Guardians seemed to wake up. They made a free throw and a 3-point play. After a Houghton free throw, the Guardians made a short bucket and added another after a Madera miss to cut the lead to four.
However, Houghton closed the third quarter with a layup to begin an 11-0 run to the end of the game.
Hernandez opened the fourth quarter with a free throw 19 seconds in. Houghton was fouled on the next possession and sank both free throws. Warren was fouled on the next possession and sank both free throws for a 30-19 lead.
After a Hernandez steal, Jaramillo put the nail in the coffin with a 3-pointer with 5:51 left in the game.
Garza was called for an offensive foul and Houghton made a free throw for a 34-19 lead.
Garza threw out of bounds on their next possession. Off the inbounds, Jaramillo had a clear lane to the hoop for a layup. As she went up, she was shoved from behind and banged into the wall. Garza was called for a flagrant foul and an ejection.
West stepped up to sink both free throws.
After a conversation with the officials, the Justin Garza coach elected to end the game with a Madera victory.