Casa Grande High School's Lady Gauchos continued to do what they need to do to survive in the tough world that is North Bay League basketball Tuesday night. Casa Grande has played just three league games since moving to the NBL and every one has been a struggle against a tough foe. The Lady Gauchos have won two of those three battles.
Tuesday night in Casa Grande's Coach Ed Iacopi Gymnasium it was more of the same, with the Lady Gauchos holding off Windsor's Lady Jaguars, a team that had beaten them earlier in a non-league game, 50-42.
After an intensely played, but indecisive first half, Casa finally found its 3-point shooting range in the final period to put the game out of reach of the aggressive visitors.
"We came out ready to play and we had good defensive intensity," noted Casa Grande coach Dan Sack. "We built a little early lead. We knew they would come out fighting in the second half and we knew we had to match their intensity."
Casa Grande opened as if it was going to be an easy night, scoring the game's first 10 points. Senior Brooke Santander, who is beginning to emerge as a major scoring threat, accounted for eight of the Lady Gaucho points and finished with 20 on the night.
But first impressions can be deceiving. Although Casa Grande led, 15-8, by the end of the first period, Windsor was beginning to show signs of not only life, but vitality, particularly defensively.
Playing a mixture of several different players, Casa Grande went the first seven minutes of the second quarter without a point, finally getting two baskets, one a drive by Kayla Ryan and the other a much-needed 3-point connection by Angela Llaverias. However, the Lady Gauchos'' five points in the period was one better than the Lady Jaguars could muster against the intense Casa defense and the homeside still led at the half, 20-12.
Both teams picked up the scoring in the third quarter, although Casa Grande had to do a work around to protect point guard and team captain Lyndsey Murnin, who within a matter of seconds midway through the period picked up her third and fourth personal fouls. Although Casa undeniably missed her scoring punch (she finished with 12 points while playing just about half the game minutes), junior Megan Burke competently directed the team as Murnin's point guard replacement.
"Megan has done an outstanding job," said Sack. "She has helped us get through the times when Lyndsey has been in foul trouble. She is starting to gain confidence."
The Lady Jaguar offense was fueled by senior captain Kerianne Noonan, who had eight points in the third period and finished with 20 for the game.
Casa Grande found the shooting range in the final period, popping in three game-deciding 3-pointers with Lexie Schloetter, Santander and Murnin all hitting.
For Casa, Llaverias scored five, Burke and Ryan four,, Schloetter three and Dayna Dolcini two.
Now 8-7 on the season, the Lady Gauchos make their longest NBL trip of the season Thursday, traveling to Ukiah.