Coyotes hurt, fall in title game
Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune
Members of the Madera Coyotes girls basketball team pass down the Div. IV Runner-up plaque after a tough loss in the Div. IV Championship game to the Corcoran Panthers.
CORCORAN — The No. 14 seeded Madera Coyotes girls basketball team knew it was in for a tough game against top-seeded Corcoran in the Div. IV Central Section championship game last week.
The Coyotes were in the game midway through the second quarter and then the collective gasp you heard in the Corcoran gym was that of Madera fans. They saw all-everything guard Rhynne Mitchell crumpled to the court in pain.
The Coyotes tried the regroup and only trailed by four heading into the half. However, without Mitchell, their primary ball-handler, the Coyotes committed 27 second half turnovers and were outscored 38-12 in a 56-26 loss Friday at Corcoran.
Mitchell ended with five points and was starting to find her rhythm in the game before the injury. She didn’t return and was later diagnosed with a right hamstring injury.
The Coyotes tried to pick up Mitchell’s ball handling and scoring, but came up short. Nine different Coyotes scored against the Panthers, but no one scored more than five points. Besides Mitchell, Matty Gonzalez was the only Coyote to score five points, and that came late in the game.
In addition to committing 38 turnovers as a team, they only attempted 36 shots and only made seven (19 percent). The Coyotes were also a combined 8-of-26 (31 percent) from the free thow line.
Madera was holding tough until the Mitchell injury. They held Corcoran’s best player to just six points in the first half because of the defense of Jasmine Levy, who finished with 11 rebounds and five on the offensive glass. Corcoran’s second leading scorer had 13 points, but just three in the first half.
After Corcoran scored the first bucket of the game, Aaliyah String hit a short jumper and Levy hit a 15-foot jumper for a 4-2 lead.
Corcoran scored the next three points to take the lead. Neither team scored for almost three minutes before the Panthers hit a 3-pointer and made a short jumper for a 10-4 lead.
Mitchell hit a 3-pointer at the first quarter buzzer to cut Corcoran’s lead to 10-7.
Aasyria Goins opened the second quarter scoring with a 3-pointer to tie the score at 10.
The Panthers scored the next four points before Mitchell stopped the run with a pair of free throws.
Levy came down with a rebound and Mitchell was driving to her right. She appeared to have tripped over a Corcoran defender and immediately fell to the floor. She needed assistance off the court and did not return.
The Coyotes tried to battle back when Erika Perez found Levy for a short bucket to tie the game at 14. However, Corcoran closed the first half with a pair of buckets for an 18-14 lead.
The Coyotes opened the second half scoring with Perez 3-pointer to cut the lead to one. Unfortunately, the Coyotes couldn’t score for almost four minutes.
In that time, the Panthers took advantage of nine turnovers to score 21 straight points for a 39-17 lead.
Goins finally broke the run with a free throw, but she hit just one-of-five during a Madera possession.
The Panthers scored four more points for a 43-18 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Corcoran scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter for a 12-0 run and increased its run to 36-1.
Mayeli Hill stopped the run with a free throw. She missed the next, but Sara Luna came down with a rebound and made one-of-two free throws.
The Panthers scored the next five points before Syriah Hill made one-of-two free throws.
Gonzalez drained a baseline 3-pointer to provide some excitement for Madera. However, Madera committed turnovers on its next three possessions.
Gonzalez added a free throw with 36.4 seconds left.
Just before the end of the game, the Corcoran players drenched their head coach with water. The officials gave the Corcoran bench a technical foul and Gonzalez closed the scoring with a free throw.