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for Pecos Country of West Texas

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Eagles rout Maidens, 61-31, after losses to Bears, Cats

Third quarters were good for the Pecos Eagle girls’ basketball team this week. First halves and fourth quarters not as much, though the Eagles were able to extend a third quarter scoring run well into the final period on Saturday, in the seventh place game of the Midland Greenwood Tournament.

The Eagles, who had used a big third quarter to beat Jal, N.M. earlier last week while playing in Pecos, rallied from a nine-point deficit in the third quarter of their tournament opener against San Angelo Central and would tie the game early in the final period, before seeing the Bobcats pull away in the closing minutes for a 54-43 win.

That was pretty much the same script as in their consolation semifinal game Saturday morning against El Paso Bowie. The Eagles cut a nine-point halftime lead by the Bears to four in the third period, and were down by that amount early in the final period before Bowie pulled away to win, 59-45. But later on Saturday against San Angelo Lake View, the Eagles went on a 27-0 run that started in the third quarter and lasted through the first four minutes of the fourth, turning a close game into an eventual 61-31 victory.

"I felt like in the third and fourth quarters we came out an played well," said Eagles' head coach Donna Gent. "We were getting our shots and converting and our girls off the bench, Candace Moore Ally Salcido and Kristen Ikeler, played very well when they were in there."

Lake View had all kinds of problems with Pecos' full-court press throughout the game, but in the first half the Eagles were unable to convert most of those turnovers into points. Lake View's Brittany Musquiz hit three 3-pointers in the first half, her third giving the Maidens a 20-16 lead midway through the second period.

Pecos responded with five straight points, off a lane jumper by Jasmine Rayos, a foul shot by Brittany Palomino and a rebound lay-up off a missed Palomino foul shot by Gabby Garcia. That put Pecos ahead by one, and that's the amount the Eagles led by at halftime, before Lake View's Jaelyn Williams scored off a lay-up to give the Maidens a 24-23 lead.

San Angelo wouldn't score again until Musquiz hit her final 3-pointer with 3:39 to play, by which time the Eagles had grabbed a 50-24 lead. Rayos had put Pecos ahead to stay with a lay-up off a pass from Claire Weinacht, and Garcia followed with a 3-point play to get the streak going. Diana Parada, Salcido and Rayos would score off steals during the quarter, which ended with Pecos leading 37-24, and the Eagles would then score the first 13 points of the final period, despite problems at the foul line.

"They said their legs felt like jelly. They were tired, so at halftime we just relaxed, and then they said they got their second burst of energy," Gent said.

Rayos would end up with 10 of her 19 points in the final period, most of those off fast breaks, and Garcia would finish with 18 points on the afternoon.

In the morning game, it was Bowie that got most of the fast-break points, as guards Cindy Balandran, Valerie Alvarado and Martha Chavez beat the Eagles downcourt for a series of lay-ups, both off steals and defensive rebounds.

Pecos didn't have the ball handling problems Lake View did, but led only once in the game, at 3-2 after a 3-pointer by Rayos, who finished with 17 points. Chavez also hit a couple of 3-pointers in the game, while Alvarado had a second quarter lay-up that would put Bowie ahead to stay, at 17-15. It also started a 12-2 run that eventually gave the Bears a 27-17 lead, and El Paso had a 29-20 lead to start the third period.

Rayos and Weinacht opened the period with baskets to cut the lead to five, and Pecos would cut the lead to four, at 36-32 off a 3-pointer by Rayos. Bowie would come back behind Chavez to widen the lead back to nine, at 43-34, and were ahead by seven after three periods when the Eagles staged their final rally, cutting the lead to 45-41 on baskets by Garcia and Palomino.

But that would be as close as Pecos would get, and Balandran would score three times in the final four minutes on lay-ups off steals, while the Eagles would lose Rayos with her fifth foul at the 2:45 mark in the final period.

"They're a good team. The girls said they're the most aggressive team we've played this season," Gent said. "I actually had girls signaling to come out for breathers."

Garcia also was in double-figures for Pecos with 10, while Balandran led Bowie with 15 points and Chavez had 14, despite spending much of the game in foul trouble, including a first period technical foul. While San Angelo Lake View was winless going into their game with Pecos, San Angelo Central went into Thursday's tournament opener undefeated. The Eagles led by one after one period before falling behind by nine at halftime, 25-16. Pecos was able to come back in the third period, scoring 19 points to cut Central's margin to four, at 39-35, but the Bobcats were able to pull away from the Eagles again in the final period.

Garcia scored 20 to lead the Eagles in scoring, while Parada finished with 15 points. Central front line players Lyric Ross and Brooke Bailey topped the Bobcats, with 15 points apiece.

Central did fall to El Paso Irvin in the tournament semifinals, 37-32, but came back in the third place game to beat Midland Christian, 57-20, while Greenwood, which used a 40-15 second half to beat Bowie 71-48 in their opener, fell to Irvin in the title game, 60-40.

The Eagles are now 5-5 on the season going into Tuesday's 6:30 p.m. game against Alpine. Pecos will play in the Wildcats Classic at Wink this coming weekend. "They beat us in the very first game of the season (44-36), but I feel we'll be prepared for them," Gent said.

"I think each game we're improving. We still need to cut back on our turnovers and we need to work on out underneath shots, but I feel our confidence level in each other is improving," Gent said. "I think this tournament has been really good for Brittany Palomino. It's been a big ego boost for her, and she's becoming more confident in her ball handling and shooting."

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