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Lady Aztecs begin with win
BARSTOW • The Lady Aztecs basketball team kicked off its home schedule with a win on Tuesday, beating Hesperia, 35-27, at Barstow High School.
It was a game that was more like two games, the halves were so different. The Scorpions put up their shots but had a hard time finding the net in the first, going scoreless for those 16 minutes. It was another story in the second, as Hesperia stepped up and made a bid for victory, particularly in the fourth quarter, but Barstow was able to hold on.
“It was our goal to come out and get a quick lead, and we did a good job achieving that,” said Aztecs head coach Anthony Nolen. “I think when we were ahead at halftime, we settled for the lead. But you can never assume you have the win.”
Things were looking good through the early going. The Aztecs scored 10 points in the first quarter, doing well against a pressing Hesperia defense. Kayla Thesis netted five points, including knocking down the only trey Barstow would get. The home team was up, 16-0, at the break.
Though the Scorpions weren’t scoring in the first half, they did bring a formidable defense. It was something that the Aztecs were forced to handle without their starting point guard, Marissa Dado, who is ill and had to sit out. Green and Thesis ran the point, and did well under fire.
“Both Jas and Kayla handled the ball well in (Dado’s) absence,” said Nolen. “It allowed us to get the ball down low to Vasa (Alefaio).”
While the Scorpions got on the board in the third, Barstow was still firmly in control. The first points of the quarter came off a steal and fast break by Thesis, with Green following with a swipe and bucket of her own a couple of minutes later. Alefaio also picked up two field goals and the Aztecs were up by 20 at the buzzer.
In the fourth, Hesperia woke up. The visitors collected three unanswered buckets in the first minute, and from there kept up the pressure defense while hitting shots that previously weren’t going in. It wasn’t long before the double-digit lead was down to single digits. The Scorpions defense rushed the Aztecs into some bad passes and turnovers, with the Barstow lead cut to six with just under two minutes to go.
Nolen was certainly getting nervous, but he was happy to see his players preserve the win.
“I’m proud of them for sticking together as a team and figuring it out to win their first home game,” said the coach.
Nolen has a young team, with just three seniors.
“Before the game started, I could tell they were a little anxious,” he said. “Those jitters are to be expected, but we moved the ball well.”
The coach was also able to empty his bench and get all his players some floor time.
“We wanted to get everyone in the game,” Nolen said of himself and his coaches. “It’s a long season and we need to see what we have right now. This is a tough league, and we’ll need a total bench.”
Seven players wound up in the scoring column, led by Thesis with nine points. Alefaio had eight points and Sharon Green, seven. Green also had a steal and bucket in the fourth.
The Aztecs are home again next Wednesday against Burroughs, and will host Victor Valley next Friday.