Girls Basketball: Monarchs lose to Bulldogs in MLK Showcase

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Exeter loses lead and game as their shooting hand goes cold in the third quarter

By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN

VISALIA – This year’s edition of the MLK Showcase at the College of the Sequoias displayed more than local talent. The second game of the day between the Exeter Monarchs and the Golden Valley Bulldogs held D-III playoff implications. The result came down to scoring, and the Monarchs fell short 54T-44.

“We did not have our top game today,” Exeter head coach Gary Hylton said. “I like it when we are on a routine. But we did some things good. We are definitely not scared of them if we play each other again.”

The Monarchs (14-6, 1-0) started the game slowly, but by the middle of the first quarter they began to get their feet under them.

Down 11-5, Exeter’s Kenedi Baxter-Jones grabbed a rebound on the Golden Valley (17-4, 1-0) end of the court. As she brought it up, she passed it to Megan Enriquez along the arc. Enriquez made the three-point shot to pull Exeter within a score and went on to lead the Monarchs with nine points.

Toward the end of the second quarter, a layup by Enriquez gave Exeter their first lead of the game 20-18. After hauling in a rebound, she brought the ball up the court. She drove the lane, splitting a couple of Bulldog defenders for the score. Two free throws by Exeter’s Allison Vargas made the halftime score 22-18.

“If we [had] finished a few more of our shots, then this game would have ended a little differently,” Enriquez said.

All Exeter could do was try keep pace while Golden Valley’s Ayanna Dunn made a triple hit of three-point shots in a row. That sequence gave the lead back to Golden Valley 27-25. For Hylton, it was a shock that Dunn had come out and scored so many points considering she was not the Bulldogs’ main outside shooter.

In the last few seconds of the third quarter, the Monarchs looked fatigued. Unable to gain or keep possession of the ball, they continued to fall further behind. Golden Valley, behind Dunn and Taja Ball, combined for six points to make it 36-29.

Exeter was able to make it a one-score game early in the fourth quarter. Tiffany Campbell hit a three-point shot to make it 38-37. Although, Dunn came right back and scored one of her own to make it 41-37. After that, Golden Valley put the game away with a 10-3 point run.

With the loss, Exeter will most likely fall from their No. 5 ranking in D-III, while Golden Valley’s win will allow them to retain their No. 3 ranking. If both teams play each other in the postseason, Exeter will have to travel.

“We will come out better prepared in the first half because we will know what they have,” Enriquez said.

First, Exeter must survive a very tough Central Sequoia League, and this week is as tough as any. Tonight, Exeter travels to play the Immanuel Eagles. Then on Friday, they travel to play the Selma Bears. Both games are also against D-III opponents.

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