The Elsie Allen Lobos girls’ basketball team put up one heck of a fight (76-28) against Rancho Cotate last Fri. night, but they were no match for the Cougars superior physicality and experience.
Right from the tip off it was clear that the Cougars were in it for the win. The aggression and attitude they displayed were a far cry from what the team showed when they faced off against the Alhambra Bulldogs back in late Dec. Their coach, Mario Newton, walked away from the match Fri. night with a smile on his face. He attributed his girls’ performance to the experience they gained last week playing in the West Coast Jamboree.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the girls,” Newton said. “They’ve come a long way.”
The Cougars set the tone for the game and seized an early lead when Keyonee Neal snatched the ball out of the hands of Lobos player, Alyssa Briano. Neal stole the ball while both teams jockeyed deep on the Cougar side of the court and it took the Lobos a few moments to realize they no longer held possession.
That time proved critical. Neal took off for the basket, dodging between a pair of defenders the Lobos had left in reserve. She leapt into the air for an easy layup and secured the Cougars some of the first points in the game.
They weren’t to be the last.
The Cougar defense put a stop to many of the Lobos’ most promising drives. It got to the point where the theft of the ball was almost casual.
On one occasion late in the first half, Cougar defender, Katie Shiebold, slapped the ball out of the hands of Lobos player, Phoebe Lawson, when she stepped too close. The ball bounced and rolled across the court, coming to a rest at the feet of Cougar Jada Buckley. Buckley charged up the court and passed possession to Makenna Menton-Porter.
The Lobos placed Porter under heavy pressure. With defenders coming in from both sides, she fired off a fade away shot from just outside the free-throw line. It arced clean and passed with a swoosh through the net.
All of the Cougars success and their substantial lead seemed to go to their heads and late in the second half they made a few sloppy mistakes.
The most egregious occurred after the Lobos sank a basket. Both teams jogged off down the court before play resumed, but Lobos player, Maria Torres, held back. She skulked around the half court mark, waiting. When the ball re-entered the play, Torres took off. She sprinted across the court and snatched the ball from the fingers of Cougar player, Reese Rasmussen, before Rasmussen could even finish turning around.
Torres dodged around the confused pair of Cougars and fired off a perfect shot. The ball fell through the basket for an easy pair of points.
“Our goal was 30 points,” Tony Sivillo, Lobos coach, said. “We’re in division three and they’re in division two. Given that, I’m pleased with my team’s performance.”
The next match for the Cougars comes up Jan. 11 against Maria Carrillo at their campus in Santa Rosa.