Thriller

GHS girls slip by rival Hollister 51-50 as game comes down to
final shot
By Joshua Staloch

With less than two seconds remaining in Saturday night’s basketball game between rivals Gilroy and Hollister, the Balers’ Ashley Patton squared up with her team down by three points and drained a deep jumpshot from the right side of the arc that grabbed nothing but nylon as the buzzer sounded.

The Hollister faithful that had made the trip north hit their feet in anticipation of an overtime, while all eyes in the Gilroy crowd quickly focused on the closest referee, looking for the dreaded three-finger signal that would have breathed new life into the game.

But Patton’s foot wasn’t clear of the parameter line by a matter of inches and her shot – as clutch as it was – only counted for two, leaving Gilroy with a thrilling 51-50 victory over Hollister (14-6/3-3).

“It was a fabulous shot,” said Hollister head coach Tom Dean. “She had two girls all over her and put up a really nice shot.

“Close, but no cigar.”

With the win, Gilroy (15-8/4-2) completed a season sweep of Hollister, which it beat 53-48 in the league opener Jan. 14.

“When you come out of that close of a game with a win, you’ve got to be happy,” said Mustangs’ head coach Kari Williams. “These two teams play so hard against each other – it’s awesome to see.”

The fourth quarter of the game was a see-saw battle all the way. The Mustangs held a 34-26 advantage going into the final eight minutes of the game by virtue of their performance in the third, when they outscored Hollister, 14-7, and stretched out what had been a slim 20-19 halftime lead.

But as soon as the last quarter started, the Balers started to chip away at the lead. Jamie Flores scored on Hollister’s first possession before Jamie Hall scored underneath moments later to bring the score to 36-30.

Gilroy answered with a three-pointer from Katherine Hussey, but San Benito’s Johni Kieswetter – who kept the Balers in the contest with her free-throw shooting when the team went cold from the floor in the second quarter – hit a 10-footer before forcing a Gilroy turnover with her defense.

The turnover resulted in a point from the charity stripe from Patton, whose second free-throw attempt missed but wound up in Crystina Osborne’s hands. Osborne kicked it outside to Kieswetter, who calmly nailed a three-pointer to bring the Balers to within one at 39-38.

San Benito took the lead moments later off a Flores jumper but Gilroy’s Jessica Groppe answered with a drive into the lane that tied the game at 41. GHS point guard Kristen Campos, who had a great game both with her ability to score (12 pts.) and with her passing in the transition game, then gave her team some breathing room with her third three.

Although Hall scored underneath at the other end to put her team up 45-44, it would turn out to be the Balers’ final lead of the night. And Hall fouled out of the game not long afterward.

Down the stretch, Gilroy’s Kendall Costa (12 pts.) and Amanda Link (8 pts.) proved to be the difference makers as San Benito began to foul to keep time on the clock. Both Costa and Link made the most of their trips to the free-throw line, Costa going 3-for-4 and Link hitting all four of her foul shots late in the game.

Costa also added nine rebounds for the Mustangs.

“I was just real happy with our play at the end of the game,” Williams said. “When things got tough and Hollister went on top, we didn’t crumble.

“We held in there and that’s a sign of good things for us. That’s what you want to see out of your team.”

It doesn’t get any easier for Gilroy.

Now alone in second place, the Mustangs travel to Salinas to face off with powerhouse Notre Dame tonight at 7. The Spirits, who beat GHS by 25 last month, have never lost a league game since the formation of TCAL in 2002.

Led by Gilroy native Jessica Ross, Notre Dame has rolled off 37 straight league wins.

Clean sweep for GHS

The freshman and JV girls also did their bit against archrival Hollister, completing a clean sweep of Saturday’s games at Gilroy High.

The freshmen team, now 18-1 on the season with the lone loss coming to Mitty, rolled over the Haybalers, 51-11. The team was led by Vanessa Wilkins’ 15 points and eight rebounds, while leading scorer Angela Silviera chipped in with 14 and five.

Silviera had a huge game in a win at Salinas Feb. 3, tallying 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots for a near triple-double the hard way.

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