It wasn’t easy but the Rancho Cotate girls’ basketball team sealed the deal against the Alhambra Bulldogs (62-53) Fri. night, Dec. 21 in a non-conference game at the Rancho Cotate High School.
The match went neck and neck right up into the fourth quarter, and while the Cougars clearly won, their performance disappointed their coach, Mario Newton.
“It wasn’t up to par for us. They played hard towards the end, but we made a lot of mechanical mistakes. We’ll start working on them bright and early tomorrow morning eight to ten o clock practice,” Newton said. “Ultimately I’m satisfied with the win.”
The Cougars drew first blood, but it took them a good three minutes into the game before they managed it. The Bulldogs put up a stalwart resistance. No defense is perfect, however, and the Cougar’s Makenna Menton-Porter eventually found the gap off a pass to the Bulldog’s Aleena Quintero.
Quintero went for the ball, but Porter got there first. She snatched it out of the air, sending the Bulldogs scrambling back up the court. Porter didn’t wait. She plunged towards the basket and leapt. The ball lifted and fell in a perfect layup.
From there the game tilted in the Cougars’ favor. They scored a few more points and kept the Bulldogs away from their basket.
Then a missed shot by the Cougars bounced the ball off the rim. The ball fell into the hands of the Bulldog’s Skyler Parker. Parker caught the rebound and took off for Cougar territory. The Cougars swarmed Parker, but she ducked and weaved between their outstretched arms, drawing closer and closer to the basket. She fired off a shot. The ball arced through the air and sank into the waiting net.
Now back in the game the Bulldogs pressed their advantage. Bulldog Aleena Quintero took point. Rather than desceninto the melee in the paint, Quintero opted to lob the ball from the three point line. The first basket caught the audience and the Cougars by surprise, swishing through the hoop as clean and professional as you please.
Quintero followed it up less than ten seconds of play time later with another one as if to prove the first hadn’t just been a fluke. That stole the Cougars lead right out from under them. Momentum swung between the two teams throughout the rest of the match. Things didn’t truly break in the Cougars’ favor until late in the game.
It all started with a foul. A Cougar defender threw an elbow at Bulldog Bry Waters and Waters lined up for the pair of penalty shots the foul called for. She sank the first but missed the second. The ball fell into Porter’s waiting hands. Now in possession, the Cougars shifted into an offensive stance and the Bulldogs fell back to cover. They were too slow. One of the Cougars, Jessica Phillips, made for the Bulldogs’ basket as soon as Waters had launched the last free throw, and she was in the perfect position to catch Porter’s pass.
Phillips went for the lay-up. The ball passed over the rim, however, and both the Bulldogs and Cougars fell into a desperate melee for possession beneath the basket. The Cougars emerged victorious when Leslie Bejaran plunged into the Bulldog defenders and snatched up the ball. She used her momentum to carry her through and into an unopposed layup.
After that the game fell into the Cougars’ favor. The Bulldogs staged a late game rally, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the gap in score.
“This was a good game on both sides. Despite our loss I think both teams got better. That was our hope going into this game,” Bulldog coach, Jason Bautista, said. “We were definitely undersized against them but we never backed down.”
Next up for the Cougars is the West Coast Jamboree which will be in Concord Dec. 27th.