The Tuloso-Midway girls varsity Cherokees improved their winning streak to four games Tuesday night as stellar defense helped them to improve their district record to 6-3 after a 39-31 win against the Calallen Lady Wildcats. The victory ties the two teams' district records, giving them both a second-place standing behind the 9-0 Alice Lady Coyotes.
"We knew what we had to do defensively," T-M coach Hector Serna said. "We had to shut them down and the girls were doing a real good job of doing that."
The first quarter saw heavy defense from both teams, as neither would allow the other team to get into the lane. The Cherokees' Taylor Reeves hit the first basket of the game with 6:40 remaining on a lay-up. Reeves followed the score shortly after with a free throw after getting fouled to put T-M up 3-0.
The Lady Wildcats' first points didn't come until halfway through the quarter on a field goal by Crystal Carpenter. It would be Calallen's sole basket in the first quarter.
By the end of the first, the Lady 'Cats found themselves in early foul trouble as they hit the bonus with 40 seconds remaining, giving Reeves a pair of free throws to give T-M a 5-3 advantage going into the second quarter.
Both teams continued to struggle offensively in the second until Carpenter managed three points off a free throw and a short jumper to tie the game. However, the Cherokees finally managed to find their groove and went on a 14-4 scoring run to close out the half, capped by two three-pointers by Briana Vela. The run gave T-M the lead at halftime, 19-9.
By the third quarter, the Lady Wildcats' offense started to pick up as they began to find open looks. Leslyn Felder and Carpenter both hit three-point shots in the quarter.
However, despite their improved shooting, Calallen once again found themselves in foul trouble as T-M attacked the lane.
The Cherokees shot eight free throws to the Lady 'Cats' three, hitting half of them.
At the end of the third, T-M held their ten-point lead, 29-19.
Calallen continued to shoot well in the fourth quarter, but struggled defensively as they couldn't stop the Cherokees from drawing fouls. T-M scored eight of their ten fourth-quarter points from the free throw line.
In the end, the Lady Wildcats were unable to catch up as the Cherokees pulled off the 39-31 victory.
Nearly half of T-M points came off of free throws as they went 19-35 from the line. They went 12-22 in the second half.
"In the second half, they started to hit them," Serna said. "Especially in the end, they made their free throws. In the first half, they were still struggling, but they hit them when they needed to there at the end of the game. That's when they needed them. (Calallen was) cutting the lead down and we were throwing the ball away, so yeah, we made them when we needed to."
Calallen committed 25 team fouls in the game, with 14 of them in the second half.
For T-M, Reeves led the team in scoring with 13 points and went 7-9 from the line. Korey Coburn finished with nine points, including 5-8 free throws.
The leading scorer for Calallen was K.K. Guthrie with nine points. Carpenter had seven points.