The La Quinta High School girls’ basketball team needed a lift in the second half of a Desert Valley League game against a much-improved Palm Springs’ squad Tuesday night.
It took an overtime period, but the Blackhawks got what they needed. Thanks to the hot hand of Karen Orozco and a stellar second-half effort by Samantha Garcia, the Blackhawks got back in it after trailing at the end of each quarter. The two seniors combined to spark La Quinta to a 57-54 victory as the Blackhawks improved to 10-7 overall, 3-0 in the DVL.
La Quinta needed to erase a 10-point deficit at the start of the fourth quarter and relied on a couple of clutch 3-pointers from Orozco (she finished with five and led the team with 25 points). Two free throws from Garcia with 3:40 to go cut it to 44-40, before the senior was able to add another bucket on a second effort to make it a 3-point game.
Orozco’s fifth 3-pointer tied it at 45-all with 2:30 to go and the Blackhawks were in business. La Quinta surged ahead on an Orozco jumper, but the Indians wouldn’t quit.
One of two free throws by Kaila Gower, then the same from Joana Adams tied it at 47-all to send it to OT.
“I knew this was going to be a dogfight,” said La Quinta coach Ty Thomas. “We saw some of their scores and who they played, so we were a little nervous out there. When we were down by 10, I told them to let themselves go and it was fun. Those three good days of practice we had — probably the best we’ve had so far — paid off.”
Brianne Ulloa, Orozco and Garcia accounted for all 10 points in the overtime while Palm Springs had its chances with Gower (14 points) and Sierra Martinez (12 points) scoring key buckets, but in the end it was La Quinta’s aggressiveness, defensive speed from Kayla Wilson and free throw shooting that proved to be the difference.
“It was fun, but it was tough, too,” said Garcia, who finished with 14 points. “We saw the score in the second half and knew we had to get down to business. Karen started hitting her shots and we all started talking and getting together. We needed to because this is a completely different Palm Springs team.”
The Indians are off to a solid start to the season, now 7-6 overall, 1-1 in the DVL, but the Indians are young with just three seniors.
“We’re very young and inexperienced at times,” said coach Terry Tatum. “Our inexperience came out at the end. We had opportunities. We just got to hot our free throws and layups at the end. It’;s a great learning experience and we are going to get better as we go on.”