La Quinta girls' basketball turns back pesky Palm Springs squad

La Quinta girls' basketball turns back pesky Palm Springs squad

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La Quinta girls' basketball turns back pesky Palm Springs squad

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LA QUINTA

The first time the La Quinta High School girls’ basketball team faced off against Palm Springs this season, the young Indians forced the defending Desert Valley League co-champs into overtime.

While experience prevailed in that contest, 57-54, it took a strong defensive effort from the Blackhawks on Thursday night to get by Palm Springs this time, 59-49.

Palm Springs stayed close until midway through the second quarter when Blackhawks’ senior Karen Orozco drained back-to-back 3-pointers and it was never close from there. La Quinta improved to 8-1 in the DVL, 15-8 overall.

Palm Springs continues to battle for a playoff spot with a record of 5-3, 11-9 overall.

“The first time it was overtime at their place and this time, we played much better defense,” said La Quinta coach Ty Thomas. “We played much better defense AND a much better all-around game.

“In the second half, they just came out more determined.”

While the two stayed within four points early, it wasn’t until Orozco (game-high 26 points, with seven rebounds, three steals) gave the Blackhawks the cushion that was needed. Palm Springs never quit and got a strong effort from the sophomore trio of Joana Adams (15 points, 10 rebounds), Kaila Gower (10 points, 11 rebounds) and Sierra Martinez (10 points, six steals), all in double figures. Junior Hannah Flores also turned in a solid performance.

However, it was the combined experience and defense that gave La Quinta the edge.

“We’ve been getting better each game and we’re working on our defense all the time at practice,” said La Quinta senior Kayla Wilson (three points, five rebounds, three steals), whose quickness and tenacity took control at key points. “We also came in thinking that they would be a better team than they have been, so we really came to play defense. Everybody had to play defense, keep up the hard work and dedication to it.”

La Quinta led 26-16 at the half. The Indians stayed with the Blackhawks in the third, but it was late in the quarter when La Quinta junior Bri Ulloa (13 points) also drained back-to-back 3 -pointers to help La Quinta surge. Ngozi Huling also chipped in with eight points and 10 rebounds as La Quinta went up 44-28 after three quarters.

Palm Springs was able to outscore La Quinta in the fourth 21-15, but La Quinta held the comfortable edge. Palm Springs earned a strong performance in the end from Martinez (10 points) and Adams, who scored eight of her team-high 15 in the final quarter.

“We did a much better job sticking to our defensive scheme,” added Thomas. “The past couple of games we got away from that.”

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