GIRLS BASKETBALL: Grizzlies complete comeback with OT win over Tigers

Granite Hills clawed their way back from a 9 point deficit, shut out Woodlake in overtime for a 30-27 win

WOODLAKE – The Granite Hills Grizzlies made an electric third quarter comeback against the Woodlake Tigers, leading to a 30-27 victory in overtime.

After scoring only three points in each of the first two quarters of their Feb. 1 game against the Tigers, the Grizzlies came back from the locker room after the half reenergized. They came back from a nine point deficit to lead the Tigers heading into the fourth quarter. After the teams were tied at the end of the fourth quarter, the Grizzlies pulled off an overtime victory with just three points while shutting out the Tigers during the overtime period.

“We started picking up, we started pressing a little bit, but then we just hit a few shots,” Granite Hills head coach Brian Foncesa said. “All of a sudden we hit those few shots and it seemed like we were back.”

The Grizzlies were down 15-6 at halftime. In the first two minutes of the third quarter, Atritha Joseph had three breakaways after forcing turnovers. Two of those breakaways resulted in successful layups, cutting the Tigers’ lead to just five points. Within three minutes, they were only three points behind the Tigers. At the same time, the Grizzlies implemented a more aggressive press on defense. Joseph’s turnovers at the beginning of the quarter were steals at the top of the key just as the Woodlake guard brought the ball in on offense.

Though the Tigers adapted their ball handling and passing to avoid further turnovers, the Grizzlies were still able to hold the Tigers to just three points in the third, while they managed 12 themselves. It didn’t look as if they’d surpass the Tigers in points until Regina Martinez sank a 3-pointer with just 30 seconds left, making it 18-17 in the Grizzlies’ favor at the end of the third.

“We told them at halftime they need to keep the tempo up,” Woodlake head coach Terrance Anthony said. “Every time a team gets a lead, they start to get a little comfortable.”

The teams traded points in the fourth quarter as the Tigers picked up their pace. In particular, Joey Huntington made a determined effort to prevent the Grizzlies from solidifying their comeback with a victory over the Tigers. She had the most shots of anyone on her team and scored six of the Tigers’ 10 fourth quarter points through free throws.

With less than a minute left, the game was locked in a tie as both teams had traded points the entire quarter. As the seconds ticked down and the buzzer sounded, the Grizzlies threw a 3-point shot which did make it in the basket, but was taken off the board due to an offensive foul on the play.

In overtime, the Grizzlies were successful in their defense, holding the Tigers to zero throughout the extra three minutes. It was Betsy Moreno who locked in the victory for the Grizzlies with a simple shot that put them up by two. They held onto that lead until the end of the overtime period, when Moreno was awarded two free throws due to a foul on the final play. She made one of the two and the Grizzlies won with a score of 30-27. The three winning points were Moreno’s only three points of the game.

“[Moreno] is so unselfish [with the ball],” Fonseca said. “I think it’s great that she hit the free throw to win it because she’s so unselfish.”

This is the second time the Granite Hills Grizzlies have faced and defeated the Woodlake Tigers. On Jan. 18, they won 36-18 at home. They had a slow start in the second game but still managed to pull off a win despite missing a few players due to injuries and only having seven active players on the roster. While Woodlake was able to keep five players on the bench and make regular substitutions, the Granite Hills players had to spend more time in the game.

The Grizzlies are sitting comfortably in third place in the East Sequoia Redwood league behind Farmersville and Orosi while the Tigers are just behind them in fourth. There are only two games remaining in the season and Granite Hills will have to face the top two teams. Up first, they will play Orosi at home on Feb. 3, where they will continue to refine their new defensive strategy before facing the number one team, Farmersville, next week.

The Woodlake Tigers will have to face the tough Farmersville squad first, on Feb. 3, before facing a team they have already beaten once, Wonderful College Prep Academy, next week.

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