Southwest coach Ruben Valenzuela was proud of his team.
"Tonight was the first time in a long time that my team played with heart," Valenzuela said. "I am very proud of them."
The game showed Southwest may be better than its record might indicate. Also demonstrated in the matchup was a Bulldog team that stepped up when it needed to do so.
It was a game that saw six ties and nine lead changes.
Southwest jumped to a lead just under a minute into the game when Caroline Dessert hit from under the rim then took the lead again as Gloria Beltran hit from downtown.
Denice Rios and Dora Nava-Esparaza then gave the Eagles a 7-2 lead with each hitting one of two from the line.
Then the Bulldogs began a run. Melissa Williams got two quick baskets and Mayra Carboni tied the game with a free throw. The period ended with a 7-7 tie.
Kim Carillo knocked down a jumper from beyond the arc to give the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead just 20 seconds into the second period, but Rios hit a quick bucket and then nailed a three to regain the lead for Southwest.
Trailing by two with just under a minute to play in the half, Mary Sanders connected from inside the key and Yadira Aguirre gave Southwest a two-point lead with 30 seconds to play. Then Calexico lost the ball to the Eagles, who gave it right back, losing it out of bounds with three seconds on the clock.
When it looked as if the Bulldogs could be no worse then down two at the half, Nava-Esparza stole the inbound pass and put up a desperation shot that finally dropped to give the Eagles a 22-18 lead in the locker room.
Calexico put Southwest's momentum behind it and went on a 10-3 run to start the second half. Lizeth Lopez gave the Bulldogs the largest lead of the game at 28-23. Erika Antunez didn't let the Bulldogs get away that easily, though, and pulled the game to within one by hitting two shots in less than a minute.
The Eagles again took the lead off a Gloria Conner basket with 2:50 to play. The lead changed hands three times to end the quarter with Calexico up 32-31.
Down 34-31 with 6:54 in the game, Southwest's Trisha Sanchez had an opportunity to cut into the lead, but appeared rattled and missed both of her free throws, air-balling the second.
Lopez then extended the Bulldog lead to five with 4:42 to play. Rios and Sanchez both had free throw attempts but neither could convert more than one. Sanchez did step up with 1:22 to play as she hit two of two from the charity stripe.
It was then Calexico that got a case of the bricks as Christina Ramirez missed two of two from the line and Sanders grabbed the rebound with 37 seconds to play. The Eagles couldn't convert and Williams grabbed the Bulldog rebound.
Sanders would twice again grab rebounds off missed Bulldog free throws, but Southwest lost the ball out of bounds both times. Then, with one second on the clock, Sanders was looking for someone who could put up a three and force overtime. She found no one open, however, and Calexico blocked her shot on a controversial no-call to win the game.
Chew said her team struggled.
"We came out flat in the first half and we got into some foul trouble," she said. "They (her team) picked it up in the second half and got some key rebounds."
Valenzuela said the loss was tough to swallow.
"We came out very strong," he said. "We really hit the boards well and we really made some shots in the first half."
He said Calexico picked up things in the second half but his team didn't.
"We didn't do it in the second half, and that made the difference," Valenzuela said.
"With Calexico, it's always hard," he said.
The Bulldogs travel to El Centro on Tuesday to take on Central Union. Southwest will be at home in El Centro on Thursday against Brawley. Both games are at 7 p.m.
Imperial 60, Palo Verde 30
IMPERIAL — Behind a 13-point, nine-rebound performance from Krystal Parker, the Imperial High girls basketball team ripped Palo Verde 60-30 here Friday.
Alexa Olstowski added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Tigers.
Imperial (1-4 Desert League) will play at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Holtville.