CORONA – To start both of these games, neither the Corona boys or girls basketball teams seemed willing or able to do what it took to win.
Both times, they were locked in close contests in the first quarter.a
By the end, though, the Lady Cardinals had a 54-15 win over Lake Arthur, while the boys won the nightcap, 48-42, in the first round of the District 3-1A tournament.
“We showed up in our third quarter, but we didn’t show up in our first quarter,” said Corona boys coach Randy Autrey, whose team trailed 6-5 after the first period. “We were just spotty. We’ve never had a problem with our fourth quarter, we’ve just been too far down by then and have too much of a recovery to come back.”
While Corona’s boys (4-21) may have struggled to score in the beginning, but found their groove a bit by the second quarter, taking a 20-14 lead into halftime.
To start both the third and fourth quarters, Lake Arthur made a run and made it close – getting to within two point midway through the final period on a jumper by Kyle Palmer – but both times the Cardinals were able to fend off the challenge.
Corona’s biggest offensive weapon was Jim Racher, who had 23 points – mostly on breakaway layups after steals on the Panthers’ end. Bryan Huey added 10 points for Corona.
“In that third quarter, we kind of got ahead of ourselves, and it caught up to us,” Racher said. “But in the fourth, we slowed down, got our patience back and were able to finish with the win.”
“I was ready to play them, ready to beat them,” Huey said. “That first quarter, we couldn’t score anything. In the third, we just had to come back and keep the lead on them.”
Brandon Dalton had 16 points for Lake Arthur. The Panthers were hampered by fouls, as Saul De La Cruz, Palmer and Luis Tarango had all fouled out by the end of the game.
With Dalton battling an injury, the Panthers almost had to finish the game with just four players.
With this victory, Autrey looks forward to taking on the Eagles again on their home floor on Thursday.
“We’ve got to play our first quarter better there,” Autrey said “We’ve got to show up and run with them.”
Like the boys, Corona’s girls (10-16) had a rough time to start against the winless Lady Panthers, leading 6-4 after one quarter.
But then the offense got going – thanks to the defense – and outscored Lake Arthur 15-1 in the next period.
From then, it was just a matter of time before the Lady Cardinals ended up victorious.
“I sat all my seniors sit on the bench to start and made the young ones step up,” said Corona coach Terri Racher of her team’s slow start. “Some of them don’t have a lot of game experience, and that low score is just nerves.”
Like the boys, Corona’s girls relied on steals and turnovers to create scoring opportunities at the other end. The Lady Cardinals took the ball away 20 times – seven by Faith Riley.
Riley also led her team with 27 points, while Alondra Maldonado came in off the bench to grab 12 rebounds.
Also like the boys, the Lady Cardinals hit the road Thursday to play at Vaughn in the tournament’s next round. It’s a doubleheader set to start at 5 p.m.
“We’ll need everything we can to drop against Vaughn,” coach Racher said. “The possibility to win is there. That’s what we plan to do.”