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Kofa falters late against Cibola
On the final possession for the Kofa girls basketball team, King guard Adly Wiley saw an opening and drove to the basket.
With Cibola leading by two points, Wiley attacked Raider post Baylee Lakey with less than 10 seconds to go in the game.
Lakey saved the game by coming up with a block and Cibola held on for a 49-46 win Friday at home.
“I had four fouls so my thing was I didn't want to foul (out). I want to stay in the game as long as possible,” said Lakey, who finished with seven points and five rebounds.
Sophomore guard Malacah Jackson led the Raiders with 17 points and added six rebounds and five steals and senior forward Alexis Evans added 11 points and 12 rebounds. For the Kings, senior post Jacky Fuentes had a team-high 10 points but missed the first part of the final quarter because she picked up her fourth foul late in the third. Wiley, junior Jasmine Ortiz and sophomore guard Sally Gastelo each added nine points.
Kofa (1-2) led by as many as eight in the fourth quarter after a free throw by Wiley made it 38-32 with 5:27 left to go. Then the Kings unraveled — missing a pair of wide-open layups and allowing 31 turnovers on the night, some of which helped the Raiders (2-3) go on a late 10-0 run to take the lead for good.
“I think the pressure got to my girls and I think they lost their head for a second and it was hard for them to get it back,” Kofa coach Mary Kaye Garcia said.
Perhaps the biggest play of the night came after Jackson made a layup and was fouled to tie it 42-42 with 2:10 left in the game. Jackson missed the free throw, but Kofa stood still as Evans stepped in for the putback to give the Raiders the lead.
“I think their mind was just elsewhere at the moment and not where it should have been,” Garcia said. “That was a mistake that never should have happened.”
“I don't know what went on with Kofa,” Jackson said. “I was like, ‘I made the layup,'”
It was a lead that Kofa had spent the entire second half building. The Kings trailed the entire first half, which ended with the Raiders up 17-16. The Kings took their first lead with a basket by Ortiz to open the second half and after a Fuentes free throw made it 23-22 with 3:33 left in the third, Kofa led until Evans' putback made it 44-42 Cibola.
Cibola built the lead to 47-42 but Kofa cut it to one after a pair of free throws by Gastelo and Wiley, the latter of which went 7 for 8 from the line. Cibola junior guard Victoria Villa made one of two free throws and Kofa called time with 17 seconds left on the clock.
“I told the kids we have to grind it out and take it possession by possession and play smart,” Cibola coach Justin Hager. “That was a big possession.”
Garcia said that she set up a play to go inside to one of Kofa's posts, but Wiley ended up taking the ball at Lakey on the right side.
“I think she just kind of got excited,” Garcia said. “I think she saw it and went for it.”
“I think we handled the pressure, because that was a lot of pressure out there,” Lakey said. “I know some of us were freaking out, but in the timeout some of us were saying, ‘Let's just relax.'”
Cibola gained possession after Lakey's block and got the ball down the court before Villa was fouled again with a second left. She made the first and missed the second but the full-court heave by Fuentes fell well short.
“It feels like there's going to be a lot of games like this around here,” Hager said of the close game.
“It shows that we have the heart and wanted to win,” Jackson said. “We put in a lot of hours and we wanted them to pay off.”
For Kofa, it's the second consecutive close loss in the early part of the season — the Kings lost a heart-breaker to Lake Havasu on Tuesday. Kofa gets back to action at Yuma High on Monday while Cibola hosts Gila Ridge on Tuesday.
“Now in practice I know what we need to work on,” Garcia said. “We need to work on a lot of situational stuff, being down by so much and coming back from it.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.