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Eagle girls clipped by Kofa

December 19, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

When Southwest High girls basketball coach Ruben Valenzuela looks at Tuesday night's 64-52 loss to Kofa High of Yuma, the main thing he can point to is free-throw shooting.

Southwest finished 8-for-27 from the charity stripe, essentially losing at the line.

"That was the difference. We finished 8-for-27 from the free-throw line. When the clock was running we played solid basketball, but when we were at the line we couldn't hit anything," said Valenzuela. "There's only so much we can do about that. But at practice we're going to have to work on that a lot. I'd say we're going to put in a good hour just on free-throw shooting."

Among the positives Valenzuela pointed to in the game, played in the Eagles home gym in El Centro, was the play of Ericka Antunez and Tasha Ernest.

Antunez finished with a team-high 17 points while playing on a bum ankle and Ernest pulled down 12 rebounds.


"Ericka's our girl. We really need her to play well. She's now starting to find her shot and she showed it tonight," Valenzuela said. "And Tasha, she was just outstanding on the boards. She'll fight with anyone for those rebounds."

Antunez, who drilled four three-pointers, and Ernest still couldn't keep pace with Kofa's Cass Barrell and Katie Kelly. Kelly finished with a game-high 24 points and Barrell turned in 23.

Said Kings' coach Dale Huska: "Our two guards (Barrell and Kelly) played a really good game. They played really hard all night. They helped lead some scoring runs that I felt ended up being the difference in the game."

Kofa put together scoring runs of 16-5, 10-2, 8-3 and an 11-1 burst to close the game.

Southwest's biggest run came midway through the second quarter. Down 22-8, the Eagles ripped off 13 points to cut the score to 22-21, but the Kings answered with a 10-2 spurt.

Denice Rios and Jessica Conway both scored 10 points for the Eagles. Conway also recorded eight rebounds. P.J. Enders pulled down six rebounds and Gloria Beltran dished out five assists for Southwest as the Eagles finished with a season-high 16 assists.

"I think that our girls realized that when their hearts our in the game, they can compete with anyone. Tonight that happened," said Valenzuela. "Most of these girls have been part of a program that hasn't been very successful over the past few years. But this year they're playing as a team.

"They know what it means to play as a team. Last year's team didn't understand that. These girls do and that means a lot."

The Eagles (5-8) will next compete in the Montgomery tournament in San Diego beginning Dec. 26.

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