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Girls basketball: Imperial holds off Central

January 05, 2001|By JON HINSHAW, Sports Writer

The Imperial High School girls basketball team stood fast in front of two second-half comebacks by Central Union High and used two free throws with 31 seconds remaining to seal a 43-41 victory in El Centro on Thursday.

Crystal Parker's two charity shots preceded the game's final seconds, in which the Central Spartans had multiple opportunities to tie or win the game. The Tigers missed another pair of free throws with eight seconds left, but a Stephanie Schuler three-pointer bounced twice on the rim before falling off. Then, after a traveling call on Imperial on a lay-up, Central couldn't get off a shot with two seconds remaining.

"We started getting sloppy and rushing our shots. Central started rushing and that made us think we had to rush as well," Tiger coach Rich Ponchione said. "We let them back in the game and Schuler kept them in it the whole time, but we were able to hold out."


Imperial (7-7) had leads of 28-21 and 39-31 in the second half before Central answered with two runs of 6-0. The Spartans (4-12) closed to 28-27 late in the third quarter and to 39-37 on a Schuler three-point bomb — one of five three-pointers among her game-high 22 points — with 3:02 remaining in the final period.

Parker answered with a lay-up to jump the Tigers' lead to 41-37, but Central again responded. Sophomore Michelle Brown put back an offensive rebound, one of her game-high 13 boards, to bring her scoring total to 11 and the Spartans to within two. A few exchanges later Central found itself in position to tie or go ahead, something it hadn't done since the opening quarter.

Christina Diaz tied the game 41-41 after a long rebound went to Schuler, who fed a streaking Diaz a pass for a lay-up with 47 seconds remaining. Then Parker sank the free throws and put Imperial up by two with 31 seconds remaining.

"We got a lot smarter and hustled a lot more. We learned from our mistakes in the first half, but we came up short," said Brown, who also had three steals and a block. "We read the defense better and we worked the ball inside some more. We worked hard enough for the win."

Imperial led 21-16 at the end of the first half on balanced scoring that offset Schuler's 11 first-half points. Six Tigers scored in the half, with five points being the top output. Jocelyn Taylor and Rhea Deal scored two and three points, respectively, in the first half and finished the game as Imperial's high scorers. Deal ended with 10 points and nine rebounds and Taylor was one of three Tigers with eight points.

"It took teamwork," said Taylor. "We played really hard and came out with the win. We had a lot of turnovers but our passing kept us in the game and allowed us to win."

The Tigers will travel to take on Calexico at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Central, which got eight rebounds and six steals from Angelica Asaeli, plays at the same time and date at Palo Verde in Blythe.

Cibola 60, Calexico 39

YUMA — The Calexico High girls basketball team fell 60-39 to Cibola here Thursday.

Lissette Lopez led the Bulldogs with 12 points. Christina Ramirez added nine.

Calexico (7-6) will be back in action at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against Imperial.

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