In a battle of undefeated Desert Valley League squads, the Indio High School girls’ basketball team gained the upper hand on Wednesday at Palm Springs High School, defeating the Indians 57-44 to improve to 5-0 in DVL play.
Undefeated Palm Springs Indians (white uniforms) face off with undefeated Indio Rajahs (red uniforms) in a Desert Valley League girls basketball game on Wednesday, January 14, 2015 in Palm Springs. Indio won, 57-44, and remain undefeated in league play.
The victory proved to be a confidence builder for the defending DVL champions, who had to rally to beat both Palm Desert (44-38) and Cathedral City (48-43 in OT) in the last week.
“We’ve been struggling a little bit but we played a little better and executed our plan most of the time,” Rajahs’ coach Martin White said. “We pounded the ball inside and ran with our two guards (Kelcey Beckham and Jazmyne Santiel) and it worked well for us.”
The Rajahs maintained the lead the entire game as they had a strong inside-out presence from Beckham and Dneesya Baxter, who dominated in the post with 19 points, 12 rebounds and two steals despite battling flu-like symptoms during the game.
“Dneesya gives us an inside presence a lot of teams don’t have,” White said. “She’s big, strong and athletic and can finish down low.”
Beckham finished with a game-high 18 points to go along with six rebounds and five steals as she was able to take advantage with her speed with several fast break lay-ups.
Indio took an 18-14 lead after the first quarter and went on a 7-0 run early in the second and led by at least seven points the rest of the game.
“This is a big win for us because everyone was saying that Palm Springs was going to win DVL and we came and showed them that they weren’t,” said Santiel, who finished with 12 points, nine rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
Beckham agreed that the win was vital.
“Last week we weren’t working as a team and we started off bad but tonight we came out with the right mindset and ready to play,” Beckham said.
Eva Rodriguez added eight points and nine rebounds points for Indio, which improved to 13-7 overall.
Kaila Gower had a strong performance for the Indians, finishing with 18 points and six rebounds. Rachel Flores added nine points while Hannah Wright contributed eight points and 10 rebounds.
“We didn’t have the defensive intensity that we usually have and weren’t aggressive offensively and we made it too easy for them where they didn’t have to play defense,” Palm Springs coach Terry Tatum said. “However the good thing about basketball is we get to play each other twice and our team has fought back all season and we’re looking forward to bouncing back and playing Indio again.”
The two teams will have a rematch at the new Indio gym on Feb. 6.
White feels confident about his team heading forward but knows they have a target on their back.
“We know it’s going to be a struggle every night because teams are going to punch us in the mouth but we have to continue to improve and come out and play hard,” Martin said.
Palm Springs hosts Coachella Valley at 6:30 p.m. on Friday while Indio will host the Arabs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in the official grand opening of the new Rajahs gymnasium.