It was not the best game the Dos Pueblos High girls basketball team has played this season, but the Chargers did just enough Friday night to come away with a win.
Facing off against rival San Marcos, after trailing by one at the break, DP used a 25-11 second-half run to take control of the contest and defeat its rival 38-25 in front of a big crowd at Sovine Gymnasium.
“Every time we play them (San Marcos) it’s in the 20s and 30s, especially when we play them in front of people. It helps on the defensive end but I think on offense it makes everybody a little anxious,” Chargers coach Phil Sherman said.
“For us, scoring is a struggle, but defensively, I thought everybody came in with a lot of energy.”
Senior forward Mikayla Butzke made a huge impact for the Chargers, recording double-digit rebounds with 12, while also having two blocks.
Scoring was certainly a struggle in the first two quarters with DP (12-6, 2-2) making just four field goals in the first half and San Marcos (14-6, 0-4) making just five field goals through 16 minutes.
One thing keeping the Chargers in the game early, however, was their perimeter shooting. Trailing 10-3 with 1:48 left to go in the first period, DP finished the quarte on a 6-1 run with a three from Leila Chisholm and Ariana Tapia to be down just two points.
In the second quarter, a quick basket from Mikayla Butzke quickly tied the game up, but from there both sides missed open shot after open shot, much to the detriment of the Royals.
Given the Chargers’ size, San Marcos was having a tough go at trying to get anything to go from in close, so when shots from the perimeter were not falling, it did not have any success.
“They are taller than we are and they have a post presence inside so if we are not knocking down open looks, it is going to be very tough for us to go inside,” San Marcos coach Aaron Solis said.
“And Phil knows that which is why he put more pressure up top on our guards to disrupt us.”
DP had a total of six blocks in the contest.
A three from Kiani Rojas, who struggled mightily in the second half, put the Royals back on top. 14-11, with just over two minutes to play.
A pair of free throws from sophomore Lily Mires brought DP back to within one by the time the halftime buzzer sounded.
To start the second half, the Chargers were a little more efficient, outscoring the Royals 10-2 while making four of their first nine shots, including a three-pointer from Sadie Subject with 4:26 remaining in the third period.
The two teams went on a drought again after that, with neither side scoring for nearly three minutes until San Marcos’ Ariel Plourde drove down the lane and made a basket while drawing a foul.
She made the ensuing free throw to make the score 23-19 in favor of DP.
Plourde was the Royals leading scorer on Friday, tallying nine points with five coming in the third quarter.
The two teams traded baskets before the end of the third to make the score 25-21.
In the final period, senior guard Fran Pereira made a basket with 3:33 remaining to bring the Royals back to within three.
From there, however, the Chargers ran away with it, outscoring San Marcos 11-1.
“Overall, the girls played really hard and kind of made up for a lot of shots that were not being made,” Sherman said.
Offensively, the Chargers were led by Subject who had a game-high 11 points while Tapia finished with seven.
One player who struggled with her shot Friday was DP’s usual leading scorer, Ashley Gerken. The junior guard had zero points missing all seven of her shot attempts.
“She just has to manufacture shots like anyone who plays basketball. Sometimes, your shot is not falling and the good ones figure out to go to the boards, play the lanes defensively, try to get to the free-throw line. She’s figured that out most of the time,” Sherman said.
For the Royals, the loss stings a bit more knowing that a lot of the looks they had were good, but were just not falling.
“That’s all you can ask for, is good looks,” Solis said.
Now 0-4, San Marcos will look to rally and pick up its first Channel League win against Cabrillo early next week.
“We are a little young and some of them have not been in these types of experiences before and it’s learning to compete in this type of experience that will make us better,” Solis said.
“Defensively we are playing pretty well and I am pretty happy with our half-court defense. We just have to figure out how to score again.
For DP, the win made it playoff eligible. Even if the team loses its final six games, it will finish at the requirement to be considered for a postseason bid.
Even with that, however, Sherman is nowhere near satisfied.
“We need to make top three (in the Channel League) to make it for sure. It would be a lot more attractive if we are three games over .500 as opposed to 12-12 so we have to soldier on and manage games. They are going to be tough but everyone is really beating each other so it’s good,” Sherman said.