Undermanned Casa Grande pushed Windsor to the limit until the final two minutes, but eventually fell to the host Lady Jaguars, 46-39, on Tuesday night. Despite the loss, it was a maximum effort from all hands.
With only six players available for duty, Casa coach Dan Sack made the most of a very limited substitution rotation, but the speed of the up-tempo contest finally took its toll on the pressing Gauchos down the stretch. Three players in street clothes with a variety of ills could only lend vocal support as Casa grimly held an advantage throughout the first half.
The Lady Gauchos didn't do too much wrong as they came out of the blocks with much more energy than one of the favored teams in the North Bay League. Time and again, Casa hustled for loose balls and earned second opportunities on the offensive end. Backcourt dynamos Meagan Burke, Sara Langdon and Cassidy McKinney poked the ball loose enough to help their club earn a narrow two-point lead at half.
McKinney, Angela Llaverias and Brooke Santanter all took turns knocking in baskets, and the trio accounted for all but two points against the shaken Lady Jaguar back court, as the gutsy Gauchos took a surprising 22-20 advantage to the dressing room.
Sophomore sixth player Joy Jovick got extremely valuable minutes for Casa replacing almost every teammate in the fast-paced Gaucho defensive scheme. Her play kept the flow of the game in the favor of the visitors.
Windsor was able to stay in the contest with a strong effort in the paint area by junior canter Jessica Barbosa. The 6-foot, 1-inch Portuguese exchange student consistently got inside position for close-in bank shots while the Gauchos were shutting down the Windsor outside game. Barbosa left the floor with a minute remaining in the half after scoring 12 points.
Windsor finally forged into the lead by cutting down on their ball handling mistakes and outscoring Casa, 11-5, in the third stanza.
Casa made another run in the final quarter, triggered by 3-point shots by Llaverias and McKiney, but could get no closer than a basket before Barbosa closed the deal with a pair of shots initiated by some nifty entry passes.
Usually high-scoring guard Kerianne Noonan was targeted by the Gaucho defense, but was content to be a facilitator in the game, and finished with seven assists for Windsor. Six of the Noonan passes led to Barbosa baskets. The last set up a 3-pointer by Andrea Finn. The ball was in her hands during most of the crucial final two minutes.
Llaverias turned in an outstanding all-around game for Casa Grande. In addition to her strong work on the glass, Llaverias knocked in 12 points to pace the Lady Gauchos for the second consecutive game.
Santander finished with 11 before falling awkwardly on her ankle in the final seconds of the game. It wasn't a game for the feint of heart, and she limped home the rest of the way. McKiney had nine points, all from behind the arc.
Barbosa finished strong with eight points in the final quarter. The Gauchos had no answer for her work in the paint after she secured the ball. Playing basketball for only the second year, she led all scorers with 24 points.