By GERARDO RECINOS
After nearly two months of winning, the Lady Bulldog basketball team had an unprecedented streak of 14-straight wins across 51 days. That streak was broken last Friday, Jan. 20.
For only the second time this season, Alhambra’s girls lost. The 66-50 loss on the road against the Concord Minutemen came from a brilliant shooting night by the opponents.
Concord shot 48 percent from three-point range in the win. They covered 10 from long range, but in truth, a lot of the damage the Minutemen did came from two players.
One stands out well above the rest. Ciara O’Kelley, who is 6-foot-2, had 21 points and 14 rebounds in the win. Of those 14 rebounds, eight of them were offensive rebounds.
The other dagger came from sharp-shooting junior Gaby Lomeli. The early Concord lead, which the Bulldogs couldn’t cut into, was largely in part to her shooting. The guard converted five three-pointers in the first half alone, and seven on the night.
Her 70 percent shooting clip from long-range doomed the Bulldogs early.
By the end of the first quarter, the Bulldogs were down 13 points, due mostly to a poor shooting start, but also because Concord couldn’t miss.
After an 11-2 run to start the match up, Concord hit another run, this time an 8-0 one where Lomeli hit a pair of three-pointers.
At the half, down 17, the Bulldogs made a concerted effort to get back in the game. At many different points of the match the Minutemen threatened to break the gap wide open, but energetic performances from Kaylee Pond and Saelym Schmidt in particular helped keep the Bulldogs in reaching distance.
Schmidt had a solid shooting output in the second half, and collected most of her 21 points in the second half. Her effort was what allowed the Bulldogs to outscore the Minutemen in the second half by a mark of 30-29.
One thing that was evident from the game was how much of a closely knit unit the Bulldogs are. To say they are greater than the sum of their parts would be unfair, but they work as a unit. And without Bry Waters, one of the leading scorers, some of that team speed was missing.
Waters has benefited of a lot of fast break points, but also has worked and the lynch pin of the transition fast-paced offense.
Concord did not want to play fast-paced basketball and because of that the Bulldogs couldn’t get into a rhythm.
The Bulldogs were out-rebounded and out-muscled by Concord, but it is very clear that in the return match in Martinez, coach Jason Bautista will surely make the adjustments to correct the outing.
The Bulldogs and Minutemen meet on Feb. 7, with the match having huge ramifications in the Diablo Athletic League title chances for any of the top three teams.