Sophomore Ty Baxter records 16 points in fourth quarter and career high total to lead the Monache Marauders to a 74-63 victory over the Golden West Trailblazers
PORTERVILLE– The Monache Marauders defeated the Golden West Trailblazers for the second time in league play after sophomore Ty Baxter scored a career-high 24 points.
The Monache Marauders probably expected an easy win over the Golden West Trailblazers after beating them 71-56 in their first meeting, but the Trailblazers put up a hard fight in their second meeting on Jan. 27. After falling behind in the second quarter, the Marauders managed to turn the score around in the third quarter thanks to sophomore Ty Baxter, who made a pass from the ground that led to a game-tying layup. Baxter then recorded 16 points in the fourth to keep the Marauders ahead. Monache won 74-63.
“We’ve been primarily just the jump-shooting team,” Monache head coach Justin St. Clair said. “So we came out of halftime with a focus on getting the ball in the basket.”
It was an impressive move from Baxter in the end of the third quarter that led to the Marauders tying the game at 45 before running away with the score in the fourth. While on defense, Baxter knocked a ball loose from a Golden West player’s hands. Then Baxter dove for the ball to prevent his opponent from regaining possession. In the midst of the tussle, he managed to pass from the ground to Jared Ojeda, who made an easy layup. Ojeda had nine points in the third quarter alone.
Baxter recorded a 26-point game, a career high for the sophomore, but it was the energy he brought in the second half that catapulted the Marauders to victory. He began taking every opportunity to shoot the ball. He recorded 16 of the 24 points the Marauders scored in the final quarter.
“[I was] just putting up open shots,” Baxter said. “Kind of tried to play as a team and I got open and I hit shots.”
According to St. Clair, Baxter is a persistent player who puts everything he has into the game. It showed against Golden West, particularly after the Marauders fell behind in the second quarter. Though the Marauders were up in the first, they fell behind just before halftime. The Trailblazers began to slowly put points on the board while preventing the Marauders from making offensive moves. Golden West was ahead 33-28 when the teams went to the locker rooms at the half.
“We knew coming in that Monache was going to go up and down with their shooting and this was going to be a game of runs,” Golden West head coach Drew Hall said. “We’d be able to get back in the game as long as we stayed within ourselves.”
For the first half of the third quarter the Trailblazers were able to stay ahead, scoring on nearly every offensive possession. Halfway through, a switch seemed to flip with the Marauders’ defense and suddenly the Trailblazers couldn’t get the ball in the net. The Trailblazers’ Ethan Rich managed a 3-pointer just as the buzzer sounded for the end of the third, but they couldn’t carry the momentum into the fourth.
“Our league is not easy,” St. Clair said. “It’s a battle every night.”
Monache was 2-3 in league play, putting them fifth in the East Yosemite League after the first round. They were just one spot ahead of Golden West, who was 0-5 coming into this game. Three teams, El Diamante, Porterville and Redwood, are now tied for first place in the EYL with 4-2 records after the games on Jan. 27. Mt. Whitney and Monache are both 3-3 and Golden West is 0-6.
“We’ve had some pretty tough losses in the first round,” Hall said. “So we’re just trying to keep our competitive edge going in and expecting to be successful.”
Golden West will face Mt. Whitney on Jan. 31.
“[El Diamante and Mt. Whitney] are road games so we’ve got to be solid,” St. Clair said. “We’ve got to be locked in mentally because it’s gonna be tough.
Monache lost to El Diamante at home in their first meeting and will be looking to get revenge in the Miners’ gym on Jan. 31.
Prior to the boys’ game, the Monache girls’ basketball team won their sixth game in a row. They defeated the Golden West Trailblazers 64-37. Despite the Trailblazers putting up more points in the first few minutes, the Marauders pulled ahead and left the Trailblazers in the dust as they continued to run up the score.
“We were low on energy,” Monache head coach Jonathan Bartlett said. “We weren’t ready to play today.”
It may have been a slow start for the Marauders, but they managed to get their energy up by the second quarter. Teamwork was the name of the game for the Marauders, who spread out the points all over the scoresheet.
In the third quarter, both sophomore Blessing Evans and freshman Kyah Bartlett had breakaways that resulted in textbook layups. Then in the fourth freshman Milly Rojas started shooting baskets from outside the paint, picking up six points for herself. But the player that brought the most intensity and led the offense was junior Alisha Verdejo, who directed the offense and led the defensive press.
For most of the game, the Marauders were able to contain the Trailblazers’ offense, except for one player. Golden West’s leading scorer was sophomore Teyanna Burell, who scored 17 of the Trailblazers’ 37 points. The Trailblazers’ strategy was trying to slow down the Marauders’ fast-paced play, which they accomplished in the first quarter.
“We’re making adjustments every week to really perform for each team,” Golden West head coach Aly Garcia said.
The Trailblazers are 1-5 and will face the only opponent they beat in the first round, Mt. Whitney, at home on Jan. 31. The Marauders are 6-0 in league play. As they head into the second round they’ll look to make a victory lap around the EYL, beginning with El Diamante at home on Jan. 31.
“The energy will be better than it was tonight,” Bartlett said. “They’re going to have to earn a W with us.”