By GERARDO RECINOS
There’s a drop off when it comes to the quality of Miramonte and the rest of the league, but the Campolindo Cougars have done a great job closing that gap with a crop of young players.
Still, the Alhambra varsity girls basketball team was successful enough to force coach Art Thoms to keep his starters in the game longer than he may have wanted to in the 72-50 win over the Bulldogs Thursday, Feb. 11.
The Cougars came out shooting. They made nine 3-pointers in the first half alone, five of which came in the opening quarter.
Senior Emily Lyall hit three of her own from beyond the arc to fuel a quarter-spanning 20-5 run.
Alhambra’s Aly Najera, who had 15 points on the night, was the only Bulldog to make a shot from the field in the opening six minutes of the quarter. Najera drilled a 3-pointer to respond to Lyall’s opening basket.
The Bulldog girls only found a way to fight back after an intelligently used timeout by coach Jason Bautista got some rhythm back into Alhambra’s step. Junior Lexi Rosales got a basket off her own steal, and backed it up with a fast break basket from a teammate’s steal.
Again at the start of the second quarter, Campolindo jumped out to an even bigger lead. They extended it as far as 33 points before the end of the half.
The Cougars are in second place in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League, a place that will hold barring any funky business on the final day of the season Feb. 19, and a tough match at Dublin for Campo.
But all that being said it was going to be hard to keep up with the hot-shooting pace they set in the first half.
On pace to score nearly 100, the Cougars cooled off in the second half.
Alhambra’s Saelym Schmidt led the charges with a huge second half performance. The junior added to her eight points in the first half with 10 in the second half, and a strong effort on the glass. Schmidt had 18 points to pace the Lady Bulldogs on the night.
Another junior, Alanis Lara, also put together a solid second-half to reverse the momentum in terms of jump-shooting.
The Bulldogs outscored Campolindo 34-21 in the second half, and at one point got the deficit down to as few as 15 points. That was unthinkable at one point.
But as Bautista said after this game, this team knows it needs to fight until the end to see the season out, even when they know they’re not supposed to win.
The Bulldogs end their season on Friday night against Acalanes. There will be a senior day presentation after the girls’ game and before the boys’ game at 7 p.m. The Bulldog girls will honor their five seniors.