Mariners wear down Cavaliers

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BY TED APODACA: Senior guard Briana Perez hit a three pointer with 30 seconds left to pull Santiago within three points of Pacifica. But the Mariners hit two free throws and kept the Cavaliers at bay long enough to hold on for a 43-40 non-league win in a girls basketball game last week at Pacifica High.

BY TED APODACA: Senior guard Briana Perez hit a three pointer with 30 seconds left to pull Santiago within three points of Pacifica. But the Mariners hit two free throws and kept the Cavaliers at bay long enough to hold on for a 43-40 non-league win in a girls basketball game last week at Pacifica High.

The Cavaliers started strong, taking a 16-5 lead by the end of the first quarter and a 26-15 lead into halftime. But the Mariners were able to step up their defense in the second half to rally for the win. The Mariners were able to hold Santiago to just five points in the fourth quarter.

“Today, we just kind of ran out of gas,” Santiago coach Pablo Martinez said.

Pacifica opened the third quarter with a 6-0 run to cut the Cavalier lead to 26-21. After Pacifica cut the lead to 30-27, Santiago senior Nataly Palacios hit a bank shot in the key and added a free throw to push the Santiago lead to 33-27 at the end of the third.

But the Mariners again started the fourth with a 13-0 run to take their first lead. Senior Analesia Sandoval hit a three pointer from the top of the key to tie the game at 33-33. Pacifica junior Kristen Beall finished the run with a running floater and three free throws to push the Mariner lead to 40-33 to set up the final run.

Beall led the Mariners with 11 points and senior Sunshine Townsen added nine points. Sandoval had seven points.

Palacios had 17 points to lead the Cavaliers and Perez had 15 to help the offense. Marlene Gomez had four points for the Cavaliers.

Pacifica is trying to get back to the playoffs

The Mariners are coming off a fourth-place finish in the Empire League, in which they qualified for the playoffs, but fell in the first round. They are also under new leadership as Scott Sangren took over as head coach prior to the start of the season.

But Sangren does have some key returning players, including team captains Townsen, Sandoval and Alice Davila. With experienced players leading the team, Sangren said the biggest focus has been on pushing the players to play more aggressively. He said the key for them will be playing hard and stepping up their full-court defense. He said the team has adapted well to different schemes when needed.

“They play hard, they’re a good bunch of kids,” Sangren said.

The Cavaliers are coming off a 1-9 record in the Garden Grove League and 6-18 overall record in 2016-17. Second-year coach Martinez said the team is continuing to make improvements and the mindset of the program is changing.

But the Cavaliers are trying to improve with little varsity experience on the roster. The team has just three seniors on the team and senior Palacios and junior Sanchez are the only players with significant varsity experience. But the Cavaliers have some solid young players starting to make contributions. Sophomore Faith Fennell and freshman Emily Casillas are two young players getting key playing time.

However, the Cavaliers are still short on depth, which has contributed to a few late game losses. But Martinez likes the teams potential, particularly a defense that is helping open up the transition offense.

“I’m excited, we’re moving in the right direction,” Martinez said.

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