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Lady 'Jackets start strong in Christmas Classic
Hilmar Girls
Junior Cookie Cruz of Hilmar High gets ready to lay up a basket during Thursday nights win over Mariposa in the opening round of the Hilmar Christmas Classic. - photo by EDDIE RUIZ / The Journal

The first day of the Hilmar Christmas Classic saw the Lady Yellowjackets put on an impressive outing against Mariposa.

Behind co captains Dominique Miranda and Kinsey Pettigrew, the ‘Jackets controlled the pace of the game with their up-tempo defense and high percentage shots early on and it transitioned into the second half as the girls came out on top 58-34.

“I was really happy with the way they responded after half time. I feel by that point we were starting to be in control; but we talked about being patient and working the ball around,” Hilmar head coach Don Inman said.

As the second half was underway, the Grizzlies were seven points from tying the game but the ‘Jackets immediately ran away with it as an offensive burst helped, shooting 13-for-24 to end the half.

“We worked hard to get those high percentage shots and it really showed in the stats,” Inman said.

The ‘Jackets went on a 10-2 run in the final three minutes of the game, with Miranda draining six of them as she finished with a game-high 19 points, five assists, three boards and three steals.

“I think this team has a lot of potential, the girls are working hard at practice in certain areas that we are struggling in but we are starting to see progress and they have come a long way in the last two weeks or so,” Inman said.

Pettigrew concluded her night with 12 points, nine rebounds, six steals and also five assists. Senior guard Val Ewing topped out with eight points and seven rebounds.

“Hopefully what happened tonight will continue next couple of nights,” Inman said. “At this point, except for our seniors and Kinsey, we're pretty inexperienced at this level and I think their work ethic is starting to pay off as we see improvement and the bench did a great job putting pressure on.”

The girls will face off against Los Banos in the second round at 7 p.m. tonight.