The Tuloso-Midway Cherokees girls varsity basketball team fought back from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter in their game against the Alice Lady Coyotes Tuesday night, but were unable to take the lead as they were eventually defeated by the District 31-4A leaders, 65-55.
The Lady Coyotes started the first quarter off in the driver's seat with a 9-0 scoring run. T-M's first basket didn't occur until Victoria Galaviz hit a lay-up with three minutes remaining in the quarter.
The Cherokees started to find their way inside, cutting Alice's lead to four before the Lady Coyotes once again pulled away. By the end of the first, Alice held a 19-11 lead.
The Lady Coyotes continued to build on their lead in the second quarter. With 4:17 left, Alice led, 25-13.
The Cherokees looked like they were hitting their stride as Briana Vela hit a three-point shot with 3:42 left in the second, followed by a lay-up by Tory Najvar, but Alice called a timeout to regroup and finished the half with an 8-0 run.
The Lady Coyotes outscored T-M 14-7 in the first half for a 15-point lead, 33-18.
While there was signs of a comeback in the first half of the game, it was in the second that the Cherokees finally found their groove.
Within the first three minutes in the third quarter, T-M had cut Alice's lead to nine points.
"We played a good first half, but we came out flat in the third quarter and we let them back in the game," Alice head coach Tracy Zamora said.
The Cherokees continued to play smart basketball throughout the third quarter as they continued to chip away at the Lady Coyotes' lead. After a successful three-pointer by Taylor Reeves with 53 seconds remaining in the third, T-M pulled to within two points, 38-40. However, Alice's Alex Ramirez hit a pair of free throws shortly after, increasing the Lady Coyote's lead to four.
In the fourth quarter, a jumper by Reeves once again put the Cherokees two points behind Alice. Unfortunately, it was also the closest T-M would get as Alice took a timeout.
After they came back in, Mariah Mandel hit a quick three-pointer, followed by a second moments later where she was fouled by T-M's Kourtney Alphin, setting up a four-point play.
The Cherokees never recovered from Mandel's quick seven points as they struggled to keep pace with the Lady Coyotes.
In the end, the Coyotes came out on top, 65-55.
"We got it to two points and when (Zamora) called a timeout, I thought we could get a defensive stop and tie it up," T-M coach Hector Serna said. "But (Mandel) hit those three's and that was it."
"We had to scrap around in the fourth quarter," Zamora said. "They improved a great deal. A win's a win, but I felt like we didn't play the second half and that's something that we need to start trying to do.
"We're playing just good enough to get by and it's going to catch up to us sooner or later. We've got to learn to play four quarters of basketball and I haven't seen it yet this year. We can't have those let-downs."
Chelsea Arredondo led the team in scoring with 21 points. Mandel got 19 points off of four three-point shots and went 7-7 from the free throw line. Kaleigh Mckelvey also finished with 19 points and was the only Alice player to score in each quarter.
Arredondo, Mandel and Mckelvey combined to score 59 of the team's 65 points.
For T-M, Korey Coburn led her team with 22 points. Reeves finished with 13 points. Vela had 6 points, both three-pointers.
The Cherokees won their Friday night game against the H.M. King Brahmas, 73-36, giving T-M a 7-4 district record and keeping them in second place behind the 11-0 Lady Coyotes.
T-M will next play at home Friday against Cigarroa. Their final district game will be Tuesday when the Cherokees will travel to Laredo to face the LBJ Lady Wolves.