CORONA – District 3-1A play got off to a rough start for both the Corona boys and girls on Jan. 24, as they fell to Vaughn in a doubleheader.
The Lady Cardinals started off behind and just couldn’t catch up in a 38-27 loss, while the boys lost a 67-34 nightcap.
For the girls, the initial deficit wasn’t that bad – they were down 14-6 after the first quarter, and most of that was due to a 9-0 run which broke an early 2-all tie.
After the first period, the teams were dead even in the second and third quarters, so the Lady Cardinals (7-10, 0-1 district) were still within striking distance.
But the Aguilas (9-4, 2-0) had a weapon named Perla Villegas, and she proved too much to overcome.
Villegas didn’t score much – she tied with teammate Holly Perez with 10 points, while Kyra Lozano led the team with 12 – but she was all over the court, getting six steals and coming down with 10 rebounds.
Generally, she just drove Corona to distraction.
“We always look out for Perla, she’s got quick hands and she can fly down the floor,” said Corona coach Terri Racher. “Her name always comes up in practice when we’re getting ready for Vaughn.”
Chelby Brown was the only Lady Cardinal close to double figures with nine points.
Things got worse for Corona when Aubrey Brandenberger – only of only four seniors on the team – had to leave the game in the second quarter with a serious hip injury.
She was wheeled out in a wheelchair after the game.
“The momentum of the game was already changing, and when something happens like that, it’s hard to pull the girls out of it,” Racher said of Brandenberger’s injury. “Mentally, it does you in a little bit. She set the tone on the floor, and having her go down with injury, and the concern they have for her, that’s tough to come back from.
“We’ll get her checked out, but if we lose her, it will hurt us,” she added.
Thursday’s games against Lake Arthur will be a possible respite for both the girls and boys, but they still have to play the games.
“We may have to shuffle some girls around to cover the hole (left by Aubrey), but I don’t think we did anything wrong tonight,” Racher said. “We were a little timid on offense, so we need to work on that and gain the confidence we need.”
Boys still not connecting
For weeks, Corona boys coach Randy Autrey has stated his boys are “almost there” when it comes to putting together a cohesive game to start winning consistently.
On Tuesday, they showed they have the talent, and showed some flashes of brilliance against the Eagles, but it just wasn’t enough to stop Vaughn’s outside shooting and quickness.
“We’re there, we just need to get the little bits and pieces put together,” Autrey said. “Turning the ball over is killing us.”
Actually, the first two quarters were similar, with both teams scoring consistently. It’s just that Vaughn (14-2, 2-0) was scoring more.
It was in the third quarter that things really went south for the Cardinals (2-15, 0-1)
Vaughn scored the first seven points of the frame and held Corona to just four points on free throws by Tarren Washburn, Jaime Morales and Cabel Cox.
“We just couldn’t do anything right in the third quarter,” Autrey said. “We couldn’t hit a shot, and nothing went right for us.”
Jim Racher led the Cardinals – who had a fairly good fourth quarter – with 11 points, while Morgan Berumen poured in 25 for the Eagles.
Aaron Nelson added 16 and Matthew Nelson had 12 for Vaughn, which managed to score just 14 points in the final period.
“We were down 30 and pulled back to within 12 at one point,” Autrey said. “It wasn’t too much to come back from, we just have to find our heart. I’ve seen them do that before. We just have to dig a little deeper.”