BASKETBALL: Strong second half leads San Benito past Gilroy

Guarded by San Benito's Erin Glasspool, Gilroy's Chelsea Hill

After starting Thursday’s showdown against rival Gilroy 0 of 5
from the field, Cyrena Salinas broke out of her scoring slump when
she deposited all of her 10 points during a pivotal third
— including six from behind the arc — to lead the Lady Balers
past the Mustangs 46-38 at Hollister’s Mattson Gym.
HOLLISTER — Cyrena Salinas is a shooter. Plain and simple.

“Just keep on shooting,” the San Benito junior guard said.

After starting Thursday’s showdown against rival Gilroy 0 of 5 from the field, Salinas broke out of her scoring slump when she deposited all of her 10 points during a pivotal third quarter — including six from behind the arc — to lead the Lady Balers past the Mustangs 46-38 at Hollister’s Mattson Gym.

Salinas’ back-to-back treys midway through the third period supplied the Lady Balers with a 27-26 edge — their first lead since the first quarter and one they would not relinquish. Despite a 22-16 halftime advantage, the Mustangs were outscored 16-4 in the third quarter.

“Once I hit one, I just feel good,” said Salinas, who came off the bench and finished the game 2 of 3 from the field and 4 of 5 from the line. San Benito outscored Gilroy 16-6 in bench scoring.

“I’m ready to go again,” she said.

Thursday’s victory for San Benito (2-1 TCAL, 13-2) supplied Gilroy (3-1 TCAL, 11-5) with its first loss in Tri-County Athletic League play. North Salinas (3-0) is the only remaining undefeated team in the TCAL.

“I don’t think we executed as well as we would have liked down the stretch,” said Gilroy head coach Tim Jones, whose Mustangs had won three straight games and six of their last seven prior to Thursday night.

The Lady Balers have now won seven straight contests against Gilroy, however. The last time the Mustangs topped San Benito was Jan. 31, 2007.

“These games against Gilroy, they always pump me up,” said San Benito guard Erin Glasspool, who acted as Salinas’ partner in crime from the perimeter. The sophomore point guard drained four 3-pointers to lead the Lady Balers with a team-high 12 points.

But in a game that very much turned into a battle between Gilroy’s bigs and San Benito’s guards, the Mustangs appeared to have the advantage early on — and their height certainly helped.

“We tried to get as much pressure on their shooters as we could and keep them from getting out on any runs,” Jones said. “I thought in the first half, we were pretty successful.”

Indeed. Although Mari Vallejo’s jumper with 3:51 remaining in the first quarter supplied San Benito with an early 7-6 lead, Gilroy’s post players closed the gap on defense and forced the Lady Balers into contested shots, while also clogging the passing lanes in the paint.

San Benito didn’t score for the remainder of the quarter, while Gilroy, which led 14-7 after the first period, closed with an 8-0 run, sparked by a Lindsay Foster jumper with 2:21 remaining.

“They were so big that their zone (defense) takes up the majority of the court,” San Benito head coach David Kaplansky said. “It forces you to make bad passes.”

And it forced San Benito to rely heavily on its guards.

“We were just trying to put pressure on the ball and stop their 3-point shooters, especially (Erin) Glasspool,” said Gilroy point guard Sovi Nou, who finished with nine points on Thursday.

With Gilroy double-teaming, sometimes triple-teaming leading scorer Victoria Aguilera inside, the Baler big instead had to kick out to an open teammate along the perimeter.

The Lady Balers nailed six 3-pointers in the game.

“We couldn’t knock down our shots against North High,” said Glasspool, referring to Monday’s game against the Vikings in which the Lady Balers lost 42-28. “We knew we had to focus in this game and that was the key — knocking down our shots.”

Any momentum San Benito seemed to garner in the first half was quickly squashed by Chelsea Hill, though. Glasspool opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer, only to see the Gilroy post player counter with two points on a put-back. Later in the quarter, Vallejo made two of her nine points with a mid-range jump shot, and Hill followed with another easy basket from underneath the hoop.

The 6-foot junior finished with a team-high 12 points behind 6 of 13 shooting.

“That’s what we want from Chelsea Hill,” Jones said. “In a game like this, with a lot of emotion, she just stepped right into it. She did a great job.”

Hill matched two San Benito baskets to open the third quarter as well, but her transition lay-up with 4:11 remaining in the third quarter was the last time Gilroy would score in the period.

Some 30 seconds later, Salinas snapped her 0 of 5 start when she drilled a 3-point goal, and the Lady Balers closed out the third quarter on an 11-0 run.

“In the second half, they got a couple looks, got warmed up, got the crowd into it,” Jones said.

“They got the momentum and we just couldn’t get it back.”

Trailing 32-26 heading into the final stanza, Gilroy cut the deficit to four points early when Lauren Rhodes converted a two-point basket. But San Benito received six points off the bench from Nicole Rianda, and staved off Gilroy’s best efforts late.

“Our goal was to tire them out and take advantage in the second half,” said Kaplansky, whose Lady Balers pressed for much of the game. “That’s when we picked up the pressure.”

Both teams will continue league play next week. San Benito will visit Notre Dame on Tuesday, while Gilroy will host North Salinas at home. Both games tip-off at 7 p.m.


San Benito shot 15 of 54 from the field, 10 of 21 from the free-throw line … Gilroy shot 15 of 52 from the field, 8 of 13 from the line … The Lady Balers committed 18 turnovers on Thursday, while the Mustangs committed 24.

TEAM 1 2 3 4 F

GILR 14 8 4 12 38

SANB 7 9 16 14 46

Gilroy (38): L. Foster 2-9 0-0 4, S. Nou 4-9 1-1 9, L. Rhodes 2-6 2-2 6, L. Steele 1-5 5-10 7, C. Hill 6-13 0-0 12.

Three-point goals: None.

San Benito (46): V. Casalegno 1-4 1-2 3, V. Aguilera 2-12 2-7 6, M. Vallejo 3-8 3-6 9, E. Glasspool 4-10 0-1 12, C. Salinas 2-8 4-5 10, N. Rianda 3-6 0-0 6.

Three-point goals: E. Glasspool 4, C. Salinas 2.

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