It took the entire Monarch roster to defeat the Selma Bears on Tuesday, Feb. 2. After falling to the Bears early last month the Monarchs were determined to regain their dominance on the court. In a nail-biting finale, Exeter narrowly claimed victory, 67-65.
“We had to dig deep,” stated head coach Gary Hylton. “It took everything we had.”
Exeter’s Danica Todd opened Tuesday’s match putting the first points on the board. Teammate Lou-Lou Souza followed Todd’s lead with a layup of her own. Selma’s opportunity to score came in the form of free throws. The Bears called three back-to-back fouls against the Monarchs and sank each free throw, cutting into Exeter’s lead.
Exeter went on to commit five more fouls against their opponent in the first period. Despite the numerous fouls, with the help of Valerie Vargas, the Monarchs went on an eight-point run taking the first period lead, 16-15.
In the second, both teams traded off free throws, with Exeter’s Chloe Welch and Selma’s Taj Pannu sinking both attempts. Neither team would let up, leaving the score board 28-28 at the end of the first half.
Exeter exploded out of the half time break as Todd sank a three pointer before Selma called a time out with six minutes left of play. Once play resumed, Souza cleared the net from the three-point line. Moments later, Todd went on to sink yet another three for the Monarchs, extending their lead 42-33 with three minutes remaining in the third. The Bears then started collecting fouls and sinking each free throw attempt, slowly cutting into the Monarch lead.
As the fourth opened it looked to be Exeter’s game as the board read 49-39; however, it seemed as if the Bears had other plans in mind. Selma went on to score an astounding 26 points, threatening the Monarchs’ supremacy. Exeter struggled to stay in possession of the ball and managed to answer back with each Selma basket. With under two minutes on the board Selma took the lead 63-62. However after Exeter’s Kenedi Baxter-Jones drained a two pointer for her team, the Monarchs once again regained their strong hold. Once again both teams traded off free throws with the Monarchs capitalizing on the attempts and securing about five points for their team and ultimately the win.
“This was an exciting win,” said coach Hylton. “Selma beat us earlier in the year and we needed this one.” He went on to congratulate the girls for keeping their composure through a nail-biting match. “We are trying to do our best every game.”
In their next game, the Monarchs faced the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers in a Central Sequoia game, on Thursday, Feb. 4. Exeter entered Thursday’s match attempting to move on its 18-6 season record. The squad was successful as they crushed the Cavaliers, 45-27.
With the victory, Exeter improved their record to 19-6 on the campaign. As the next week of play continues the Monarchs have a challenging road ahead as they traveled to Immanuel on Feb. 9, to confront the Eagles in a Central Sequoia challenge. On Friday, Feb. 12 Exeter will host the Kingsburg Vikings who share a similar record to the Monarchs and are 19-6 season and 5-2 in league.