The Bulldogs led through most of the game, including the first 25 minutes, but allowed the Wildcats to take control early in the fourth quarter. A short jumper by Brawley's Ebony Lofton gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left in the contest. The sides exchanged baskets with Calexico, taking a one-point lead with 5:34 to play.
With less than five minutes to play and her team nursing a one-point lead, the Bulldogs' Lizeth Lopez knocked down a trey to give her team a two-possession advantage. Less than a minute later Lopez called her own number from behind the arch and dropped another three on the Wildcats, giving the Bulldogs a 36-29 lead, a lead not relinquished.
"It wasn't just me. It was the whole team. We worked together as a team and everyone did their jobs," said Lopez, who finished with a game-high 16 points. "We've been working really hard all year and tonight we just played with our hearts."
After Lopez's threes, Calexico added another bucket and held a nine-point advantage with less than two minutes to play.
The Wildcats bounced back and put together a 7-2 run to cut the difference to four points with 40 seconds to play. But a missed three-point attempt followed by a Bulldog rebound killed Brawley's chances of a comeback.
Reggie Horta led the Wildcats with 10 points and Lucia Garcia came off the bench and scored nine points, all from three-point land. But a factor in the game's outcome, said Brawley coach Mike Pacheco, was the loss of defensive specialist Kaylin Rubin, who left in the first half after going down with an aggravated knee ligament.
"When she went down that kind of took the wind out of our sails. Not only what she does as a player, but also not having her leadership out there really hurt us," said Pacheco. "But give Calexico credit. They deserved to win this game. We started coming back and had a lead, but when (Lopez) hit those two threes, that pretty much sealed it.
"We played Calexico earlier this year at the Kiwanis tournament and beat them. They made some adjustments, especially on defense, that disrupted our game," said Pacheco. "Now, after this game, we just have to make some adjustments of our own. We can't dwell on this game. It's a long season and we have to put it behind us and start looking at our next game.
"Like I've been saying, this whole league is wide open and I really can't see anyone going undefeated."
Both teams will next play on the road at 7 p.m. Friday with Calexico (1-0 IVL) playing at Southwest and Brawley (0-1 IVL) playing at Central Union High.
Southwest 41, Central 31
Behind the strength of an 18-point effort from Ericka Antunez, the Southwest High girls basketball team defeated Central Union High 41-31 in Imperial Valley League action in El Centro on Friday.
Antunez also had seven rebounds for Southwest. Jessica Conway added 10 points, Tasha Ernest had nine rebounds and Denice Rios chipped in seven rebounds and seven assists for the Eagles (1-0 IVL).
Janiece Manuel led Central (1-1 IVL) with 19 points, 15 of which came in the second half.
Imperial 36, Palo Verde 27
BLYTHE — The Imperial High girls basketball team kicked off Imperial Valley League play with a 36-27 victory over Palo Verde here Friday.
Jenny Bowlan led Imperial with nine points and eight rebounds, followed by Rhea Deal with seven points and five assists.
The Tigers (1-0 IVL) will host Holtville at 7 p.m. Friday.
Holtville 56, Calipatria 48
HOLTVILLE — Cindy Lopez recorded a double-double with 15 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Holtville High girls basketball team to a 56-48 Imperial Valley League victory over Calipatria here Friday.
Mykell Johnston and Claudia Lopez each added 13 points for Holtville.
Lilia Humble led Calipatria (0-2 IVL) with 14 points.
Saturday, the Vikings lost 49-37 to Coronado in Holtville.
Claudia Lopez led the Vikings with nine points followed by Johnston with eight.
Holtville (1-0 IVL) will play at Palo Verde at 7 p.m. Tuesday and Calipatria will host Palo Verde at 7 p.m. Friday.
CALEXICO — The Vincent Memorial High girls basketball team improved to 2-0 in the Citrus League with a 51-35 victory over Calvary Christian here Friday.
Claudia Gonzalez led Vincent Memorial with 20 points followed by Blanca Padilla with 10.