Girls Basketball: Spartans take third place at own tournament

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Strathmore bounces back after loss to Bakersfield Christian to defeat Exeter 38-35 and finish with two wins

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

STRATHMORE – It may not have been the outcome that Strathmore head coach Richard Miranda wanted for his young team, but it is one they’ll take. The Spartans took third place of their own tournament with a win over the Exeter Monarchs 38-35.

“As young as we are and the fact that we are coming together this is a good show,” Miranda said. “Our goal in every tournament is to win two games and keep on progressing.”

Strathmore’s (4-2) win over Exeter (4-3) did in fact give them their second win of the tournament. However, there were moments when it looked as if the game could go either way. At halftime the Spartans only held a 24-21 lead. On top of that both Vanessa Chapa and Natalie Rico had three fouls.

Despite the accumulation of fouls the Spartans played as aggressively in the third quarter as they had all game. Offensively they drove toward the lane almost every possession with Jazmine Soto leading the way. The freshman finished with 22 points, most of them coming in the second quarter.

It was her constant driving pressure that allowed the Spartans to widen their lead. On a lay up attempt along the side of the key Soto missed the shot. The ball sailed up and over the bucket and to teammate Kaija Ambriz. From the opposite side Ambriz put the ball back up for two. Besides making the score 32-23 Strathmore, the Monarch defense was so focused on Soto that they did not flow to the other side.

Soto’s constant inside pressure began to draw Exeter fouls which paid dividends in the fourth quarter. She went to the free throw line five times and while she only went 2-9 the Monarchs began to get in some foul trouble. The last of three Exeter players to foul out came with only seconds left in the game, and with the Monarchs trailing by the final score. With only two substitute players, the Monarchs’ comeback hopes were hamstringed, but they were still able to go on a seven-point run to end the game.

Tonight, in the first round of the VIP Exeter girls basketball tournament both the Spartans and Monarchs meet again at 8 p.m. in the Smith Gym.

Lindsay takes consolation championship
After losing to the Porterville Panthers 51-35 in the first round, the Cardinals won two straight to take the consolation title for second year. A strong fourth quarter against the Tulare Western Mustangs gave them the 61-43 win.

“My girls deserved this win,” Lindsay head coach Izzy Torres said.

If it wasn’t for MaKaylie Caesar making three straight free throws at the end of the third quarter Lindsay would have only had a five-point lead. Instead they had a eight point lead 43-35.

All through the fourth quarter Lindsay kept feeding the ball inside. From there players like Sara Drake and Marlene Gutierrez made easy shots. Free throws were a near certainty, especially for Gutierrez who went a perfect 6-6 from the line in the final quarter.

The Lindsay Cardinals returned home last Monday night to play the Chowchilla Tribe. Final of that game happened after press time. Now the Cardinals take a three week break before hitting the courts again on Jan. 3. That is when they will play the Sierra Chieftains at 7 p.m. at home.

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