The Gilroy High girls basketball team has taken the must-win approach seriously. The Mustangs entered the week with a 2-5 record in the Tri-County Athletic League, looking in at the postseason from a distance. Wait just a minute.
GHS followed up its victory over rival San Benito on Tuesday with a gritty defensive effort against host North Salinas, clinging to a minimal lead throughout the fourth quarter to hang on for a 39-36 win Thursday night in Salinas.
And just like that, the Mustangs (10-10 overall, 4-5 TCAL) are right back in the thick of the playoff chase. There is also quite a log-jam in the middle of the league standings, which sets the stage for a frantic final two weeks of the season. The Balers rebounded from Tuesday’s loss by beating first-place Notre Dame on Thursday night, providing the Spirits (6-3) with their third league loss in their last four outings. San Benito is 5-4 and Alisal is 5-3, while Salinas, which had a bye Thursday in 6-2.
Gilroy’s three remaining league games: At home against Notre Dame on Feb. 9, at Alisal on Feb. 14 and back home versus Salinas on Feb. 16.
In Thursday’s win, Ashlee Williams posted a team-high 16 points, Kaylana Mah had seven and Leilani Mah five. Head coach Kort Jensen credited Kayla Guardino with playing a physical post game.
North Salinas defeated the Mustangs 40-39 in the teams’ previous meeting Jan. 10.
• Two quick goals within a 10-minute span of the first half set the Gilroy High boys soccer team behind the ball against nationally ranked and Tri-County Athletic League rival Alisal on Thursday, and the Mustangs were unable to recover in a 2-0 loss in Salinas.
“Things calmed down for us after that and we created some chances, but couldn’t convert,” GHS head coach Armando Padilla said. “Our guys really came out in the second half with some pressure and I figured we could at least get one in, if not the equalizer.”
Fernando Oropeza and Lorenzo Vasquez had the goals for Alisal (14-0-2 overall, 8-0 TCAL.)
The Mustangs’ (5-9-1, 2-4-1) second-half opportunities included a one-vs.-one opportunity between forward Jonathan Diaz De Leon, who has 15 goals for the Mustangs, and the Trojans goalie. However, the keep was up to the task and, “made a really great save on us,” Padilla said.
“For as young as we are, we gave them a tough match,” Padilla said. “We were able to match their momentum.”
Despite the loss, the Mustangs, with five TCAL tilts left, are by no means out of playoff contention. Just one other team, Salinas, has more than three league wins. And though GHS has just three seniors on its roster, there is plenty of optimism in the ranks.
“We are still alive in TCAL,” said senior Mario Gomez, who has played the last two games with 12 staples along his hairline after taking a kick to the head in a game against Alvarez on Jan. 23. “We just have to wake up. We have to come out of the gates quicker and not allow ourselves to get down to teams. There is a lot of potential here and I believe we can still advance.”
A busy schedule awaits next week with three games on the docket, beginning with a road game at Palma at 3:30 p.m. Monday.
• The Christopher High girls soccer team settled for a 0-0 draw with visiting Monte Vista Christian on Thursday. Head coach Janae Pimentel said the Cougars had a goal disallowed.
CHS is now 9-5-1 overall and 6-6-1 in the Monterey Bay Athletic League.