El Diamante wins home opener against Mission Oak

Pressure defense holds Hawks until the Miners more balanced attack could find its rhythm in 40-27 win

VISALIA – After spending the first month of the season on the road, the El Diamante Miners seemed a little off on their home court but still managed to get a 40-27 win against Mission Oak on Dec. 14.

The Hawks kept the game close in the first quarter trailing by just two points but the Miners extended their lead to seven at the end of the second quarter with a 21-14 halftime lead. The Hawks were able to cut the lead to 5 at one point in the third quarter but that’s as close as they got. El Diamante continued to push the ball down low and were able to extend their lead back to a comfortable 12 points to end the third quarter up 34-22. The team continued playing hard through the fourth quarter cruising to a 40-27 win.

Outside of tournament play, last week’s game was the first official home game for the Miners. Head coach Jessica Cervantes said the combination of travel, tournament play and class finals slowed El Diamante down from its typical pace with the team averaging 44 points per game and nearly 50 points per game in their wins.

“We’ve kind of been road warriors and the girls seemed to hype themselves up more for the road games this season,” Cervantes said. “This is one of the best teams I’ve coached.”

The Miners defense kept them in the game when the shots weren’t falling. Their physical style forced Mission Oak into errant passes and resulted in several turnovers. El D’s leading scorer Rian Ford-Jones had a quiet game with just 3 points but others stepped up. Olivia Torres, Nevaeh Creason and Sofia Perez each had 7 points. Mission Oak’s Hannah Thompson led all scorers with 8 points.

The Miners went 10 of 19 from the free throw line. By comparison, Mission Oak only went to the stripe nine times and only converted four. Cervantes said she is confident in her team’s ability to remain calm under pressure despite the entire starting lineup being underclassman, including a freshman. Cervantes credits their poise to most of the girls having played extensive travel ball before entering high school

“They are young but they have so much experience,” the fifth-year coach said. “I think we will be competing for a league championship.”

The win takes the Miners to 7-5 on the season. The team won’t play again until after the winter break when it travels to Hanford to face the Bullpups at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2022.

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