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Kofa rolls past Gila Ridge in opener
The Kofa girls basketball team has stressed pressuring the ball on defense in the preseason.
It paid off in the season opener.
The Kings used a full-court press and hounded Gila Ridge in a 62-43 win to start the year Monday at home.
“The majority of our practices have been pressuring the ball. Pressure, pressure, pressure the ball,” said Kofa coach Mary Kaye Garcia, who picked up a win in her debut as the varsity coach.
The Hawks (0-1) committed 38 turnovers on the night — many of which came as a result of the Kings' press.
“They pressed us and hurt us. I think it was one of those things where we got into a bad spot and couldn't get out of it,” Gila Ridge coach David Schultz said. “Our younger players committed quite a few turnovers in the first half — I think we committed 25 in the first half. But then we cut it in half in the second half and I don't feel like the kids quit.”
Gila Ridge also had trouble guarding Kofa senior post Jacky Fuentes, who finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five steals. Sophomore guard Sally Gastelo recorded 10 points, seven assists and six steals, junior guard Jasmine Ortiz added 12 points and four steals and Kayla Cruz had 10 points and five steals for the Kings.
“We thought the press was working really well,” Gastelo said. “We were hustling all over.”
Senior post Mariah Carter had a team-high 10 points and three steals for the Hawks and sophomore Allison Weller added six points and nine rebounds in a losing effort. It was actually the Hawks who jumped out early — grabbing a quick 8-3 lead.
“I think my girls were nervous at first. We never had a scrimmage so this was our first shot at live basketball so I think they were a little nervous,” Garcia said. “It took a little bit, but I think my girls responded well.”
Kofa (1-0) bounced back and took the lead for good on a basket by senior Adly Wiley to make it 11-10. The Kings put the game out of reach by going on a 17-0 run early in the second quarter, in which Kofa outscored the Hawks 21-4.
“It seemed like a bad quarter. It felt like we weren't going to score and that everything they were throwing up was going to go in,” Schultz said.
The Gila Ridge coach also said he was impressed with the play of Fuentes, who constantly grabbed offensive rebounds, finished around the basket and went 9 for 13 from the free-throw line.
“I can see she's gotten a lot better and a lot more confident and that's good to see a kid do that,” Schultz “I'm not saying I wanted to get my butt kicked like that, but to see a kid improve like that over time, I'm really happy for Jacky.”
“Jacky is a great post player and she has so much more confidence this year,” Garcia said.
Kofa is off until Nov. 27, when they travel to Lake Havasu, while the Hawks play again at 7 tonight at Yuma High. Despite the high amount of turnovers on opening night, Schultz is confident it was more of a bad game than an indication of a larger problem.
“I don't think that it's bigger. I really don't,” Schultz said. “We're going to be fine. Kofa was just a better basketball team than us today.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.