Monache girls basketball falls in first round

Monache’s Alisha Verdejo dribbles the ball against Tehachapi. Verdejo led Monache with 19 points, including a pair of late 3-pointers to push her team past Tehachapi.(Kason Clark)

The Marauders suffer a 63-44 loss to Orangewood Academy in the first round of the Division I CIF State Championships; Monache’s season comes to an end with an overall record of 31-3

GARDEN GROVE – It had been an excellent season for Monache girls basketball. The Marauders had dominated the regular season and claimed the Division II Central Section Championship. But all good things come to an end.

This past Tuesday in the first round of the Division I CIF State Championships, the No. 12 seed Marauders went down to Garden Grove to face No. 5 seed Orangewood Academy. The Marauders started strong as they battled the Spartans to a tie by halftime, but the Spartans pulled away for the 63-44 victory on Feb. 27 to end the Marauders’ season.

While it was a tough way to end the year, Monache girls basketball head coach Jonathon Bartlett believes their play in the first half shows that the Marauders are capable of competing at the state level. And he hopes this loss can give them motivation as they head into the offseason and prepare for next winter.

“I think the girls really came out and competed at a high level and I think losing kind of gives us something to go into the offseason thinking about,” Bartlett said. “So when we come back next year, we’ll be hungry. Not just satisfied with a Central Valley championship, but really try to make a run at the state level.”

Coming off their Central Valley title and riding a 16-game winning streak, the Marauders started strong against the Spartans. By the end of the first quarter, the Marauders pulled ahead for a 12-10 lead on the road. The Spartans responded in the second quarter, but Monache held steady with a 23-23 tie heading into halftime.

“We were just taking care of the basketball as we were not really turning the ball over. And defensively, we were great in the first half. We stuck to the game plan,” Bartlett said about their start. “But I think in the second half, we struggled a little bit defensively.”

The Spartans exploited that as they grabbed momentum in the third quarter to take a 45-35 lead into the fourth quarter. The Spartans then dominated the final frame to pull away for the win and end Monache’s season.

With their season coming to an end, the Marauders finished the year with an overall record of 31-3. This past season, the Marauders went 10-0 to win the East Yosemite League title and then went on a run through the postseason to claim the Central Valley crown. While the year came to a disappointing end, Bartlett was proud of what they accomplished this year and hopes that it will set the foundation for more success in the future. 

“We had a great season. Our goal this year was to win the Central Valley title and play at the state level,” Bartlett said. “So I think for us, we learned a lot and we will be back next year.”

Tigers suffer overtime loss

After winning the Division VI Central Section Championship, Woodlake boys soccer was hoping to build off that title and go on a run in the Division V CIF SoCal Championships. But on the road this past Tuesday night, in Pasadena, the Tigers faced an uphill battle in the first round against the Maranatha Minutemen.

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Woodlake’s Eliseo Vargas kicks the ball against Kennedy in the Division VI Central Section Championship in late February. This past Tuesday, the Tigers suffered a 2-1 overtime loss to Maranatha in the first round of the Division V CIF SoCal Championships. (Kason Clark)

After falling behind early, the No. 7 seed Tigers scored a goal to tie the match and force overtime. However, the No. 2 seed Minutemen scored in overtime for the 2-1 victory on Feb. 27 to end the Tigers’ season. While it was a tough loss, Woodlake head coach Paul Delgado liked how the Tigers played on the road against a tough team.

“I didn’t know how the boys were going to respond and they responded really well so that was a very good surprise,” Delgado said. “It went better than I thought because we had to go to a different city and we drove about three-and-a-half hours just to get there.”

The Tigers fell behind early as the Minutemen scored in the first 20 minutes of the match. Delgado believes that as his team was getting used to playing on turf, the Minutemen exploited that home field advantage to take the early lead.

But late in the first half, the Tigers began to play better to pressure the Minutemen. Then in the second half, Xavier Benavides came through for the Tigers with a header into the goal to tie the match. As the Tigers got back into the game, Delgado believes the Tigers kicked it up a notch in the second half.

“In the second half we came out really good,” Delgado said. “We created more chances in the second half and as time went on, we got into more goal-scoring opportunities.”

Heading into overtime, the Tigers looked to shut out the Minutemen in order to force a shootout on penalty kicks, the same way they won the Central Valley title. But about 10 minutes into the 15-minute period, the Minutemen scored to end the match and the Tigers’ season.

After defeating Woodlake, the Minutemen went on to win the Division V CIF SoCal Championship. With their loss, the Tigers ended their season with an overall record of 17-11-4. Despite the tough finish, It was a great season for the Tigers as they brought home the Central Valley title. As he reflects on the year, Delgado is proud of what his players accomplished and for proving the doubters wrong.

“This is one of those teams that they maybe don’t realize now, but they’ll realize this was a special team,” Delgado said. “When they came out ready to play, we were a special team and it showed through the playoffs. And to get to regionals and play the way that we did, I’m pretty sure that 80% of people were not expecting us to play this well but we did.”

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