CHANNEL LEAGUE GIRLS BASKETBALL: Clutch When it Counted
On a night when points were at a premium, Dos Pueblos High made a point to be at its best in the final seconds of the last three quarters of Thursday’s girls basketball game at rival San Marcos.
The Chargers scored eight of their points just before the last three buzzers combined to pull out their first Channel League girls basketball victory of the season, 27-21.
Staying cool had actually been in coach Phil Sherman’s game plan.
“He told us, ‘No pressure on us, the pressure is on them,'” junior Mikayla Butzke said. “He said, ‘Have fun, but most of all show great determination … Come out fighting and this could be our game.'”
DP (11-9, 1-3 Channel League) had actually gone scoreless for the first 71/2 minutes of the fourth quarter, allowing the Royals (2-2, 10-11) to make it a one-possession game at 24-21. The Chargers had missed seven consecutive field-goal attempts and free throws in three straight one-and-one situations when Butzke went to the line with 28.6 seconds left.
“I heard Andy on the sidelines saying, ‘Just like practice,’ and it got me into the mindset of practice,” said Butzke, referring to assistant coach Andy Casanueva, “I was really calm going into that free throw.”
The foul shot went half-way down, popped back up, and then settled through the hoop to give DP some breathing room.
San Marcos jumped out to a 10-5 lead in the first quarter behind the ball-hawking defense of senior point guard Juliet Dodson. She twice took steals in for layups during the first six minutes.
“She’s scrappy, she played her heart out,” Royals coach Chris Hantgin said. “She played a ton of minutes so she was probably a little gassed.
“I just love her heart … She’s a four-year player for me and I can’t say enough good things about her.”
Megan Cunnison started the first period by canning a runner and she ended it with a perimeter jumper to give San Marcos its five-point lead.
But the Royals made just four of 34 shots the rest of the night.
“Once they went zone, it slowed us down,” Hantgin said. “You’ve got to credit their defense, for sure. They did a good job. But it was just a cold shooting night.”
DP started its comeback on put-backs by Sadie Subject and Butzke. The six-foot Butzke, a three-sport star for the Chargers, finished with nine rebounds.
“What’s amazing is this is like her second year playing,” Sherman said. “Last year, she played only 12 games, and it’s not that she plays a lot during the offseason. She’s all club volleyball.
“She’s quite the rebounder now … And she runs the high post in our offense, which is not easy. She’s kind of like our second point guard. I don’t know where we’d be without her. We’d be in trouble.”
Butzke’s kick-out pass helped Ava Sommer beat the halftime buzzer to give DP its first lead, 14-13.
“Something like that makes a big difference,” Sherman said.
So did Subject’s back-to-back threes early in the third period to give the Chargers their biggest margin, 22-14. She led the them with eight points.
“When Subject and (Ashley) Gerken can score, we’ve got a chance,” Sherman said.
The Chargers beat the buzzer again at the end of the third quarter when 5-4 freshman Leila Chisholm snuck underneath for an offensive rebound and fed Sommer for a 10-foot jumper. The play kept DP’s lead at eight.
San Marcos rallied to within 24-21, however, on another steal-turned-layup by Dodson and sophomore Kiani Rojas’ second three-pointer of the game off Fran Pereira’s pass from the high post. Rojas finished with a team-high seven points.
The Royals also ratcheted up their defense, forcing the Chargers into seven straight misses.
“I’m just really proud of the way we competed,” Hantgin said. “You can’t be upset with the defensive effort.
“I’m pretty positive about a lot of things. But at the end of the day, the ball has to go into the basket, and it didn’t do that tonight.”
After Butzke’s free throw with 28.6 seconds left, Olivia Roark added two more foul shots with 9.3 on the clock for the final margin.
“The young ones are learning,” Sherman said. “They look terrified out there at times, and other times they didn’t. But this is all part of their upbringing.”