The Hilmar High girls basketball team had a strong start in the Ripon Christian Tournament last week, but fell short in the end.
In the first round, the Lady ‘Jackets contained the Millennium High Falcons all game long as they pulled away with a 56-31 win. The following round, however, the ‘Jackets struggled early on and couldn’t recover as they dropped 39-32 against the hosts—Ripon Christian—before losing to the Central Catholic Raiders, 60-38.
“Obviously, it was not the result we hoped for, but overall we saw things we must work on and improve,” Hilmar head coach Don Inman said. “The players are young and inexperienced and it showed, but they're working hard so hopefully we can figure it out.”
Against the Falcons, the ‘Jackets — led by Dominique Miranda — were up 24-7 by the end of the first quarter. The remainder of the game didn’t tilt the Falcons way as the Yellowjackets controlled the paint and were able to outlast them.
All but two players managed to score in a day that was filled with a high percentage of substitutions as coach Inman put fresh legs out there to have all his players ready to go if they advanced.
“We went in with a strategy, which number one was to win but also to be fresh,” Inman said. “A lot of players got lots of time to play and we were very balanced. Millennium was a good matchup, they struggled on the inside and we took advantage of that.”
Miranda put up 14 points, four boards and five assists. Dominique Cozzitorto added 10 points and seven rebounds.
Against the bigger Ripon Christian team, the undersized ‘Jackets had their hands full, but still managed to put up a fight as it was only 29-25 by the end of the third. However, the Knights went on a late fourth quarter surge to close it out.
The second opportunities were there for the Knights as the smaller Hilmar squad struggled to rebound on both sides as they were outrebounded 36-23 and only came away with six on the offensive side.
When the ‘Jackets met up with the Raiders of Central Catholic for an opportunity to finish in third place for the tournament, they knew they would have their hands full.
It was an uneven matchup by just the size difference as the bigger and stronger Raiders team controlled the paint for the majority of the game and it took a toll on the ‘Jackets offensively and defensively as they wore down early and it was all Raiders from start to finish.
“Central Catholic had a very big lineup; lot of size, not just size but bulky and it was an area I knew we’d have issues in,” Inman said. “We need to develop the post-game. They took us out of our groove and of what we do well. We gotta do a better job with post play.”
Val Ewing finished with a team-high 14 points.
Next for the Lady ‘Jackets will be a home game against Modesto Christian at 7:30 p.m. on Friday.