Slow start, big finish

Gilroy recovers from 8-0 deficit to beat Hollister
By Josh Staloch

Hollister – In the opening minutes of Friday night’s TCAL opener at San Benito High, the Gilroy girls’ basketball team was faced with a Hollister squad that seemed like it could do no wrong.

But that’s why they play all 32 minutes.

Things turned around quickly for the Mustangs after they bounced back from an early 8-0 deficit, took control of the game with intense defensive pressure and went on to a 53-48 victory.

“I thought it was just a great effort by both teams,” said Gilroy head coach Kari Williams. “It was good basketball and anyone who came tonight saw a great game.”

The contest started with a flurry of big plays from Hollister’s Trisha Lee. The point guard hit from 10 feet out the first time she touched the ball and then, after a ‘Baler stop on the defensive end, she drove down the middle of the lane and scored in traffic.

The Haybalers’ 6-1 center Jaime Hall took over from there as she hit on two straight possessions to give her team the 8-0 advantage and force the Mustangs to use an early timeout.

When Gilroy took to the court after that timeout, they went right to leading scorer Katherine Hussey, who responded with a bucket underneath and then another following a Haybaler turnover. Moments later, junior guard Kristen Campos scored to bring the score to 8-6 and swing the game’s momentum in Gilroy’s favor.

The Mustangs tied the game and capped an 8-0 run of their own when center Amanda Link scored under the basket.

San Benito’s Crystina Osborne put her team back in front with two straight buckets from off the bench for the ‘Balers. But Gilroy’s Jessica Groppe hit a shot just before the buzzer to tie the game at 12 going into the second.

Gilroy turned up its offensive production – by a lot – in the second quarter. Campos hit Groppe with a great pass that resulted in an easy bucket for the junior forward to start the quarter. Groppe scored again on the Mustangs’ next possession and then the ‘Balers turned the ball over again, resulting in yet another Groppe field goal, pushing Gilroy’s advantage to 18-12.

In all, Gilroy exploded for 20 points in the second, and, thanks to Hollister turnovers and missed free throws, were never seriously threatened until five minutes to play.

“We had 26 turnovers tonight. That’s way too many,” said Hollister head coach Tom Dean, whose team found itself down 32-22 at halftime. “It’s something that we’ve been working very hard on but we haven’t gotten there yet.”

The ‘Balers did come out swinging in the third quarter. Hall was getting good looks inside and converting them into points. Osborne was causing turnovers on the defensive end and by the end of the quarter Hollister was down by only seven at 39-32.

The noise generated by both the home and visitors’ sections late in the fourth reached a feverish pitch as the Haybalers started to close the gap. The ‘Balers were having some success at beating Gilroy’s press in the fourth and, with less than five minutes to play, they found themselves down by only three points.

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