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Lady Eagles burned by Volcanoes
The perfect defense and shooting woes slowed the Princeton High girls basketball team in their opening round 51-34 loss to Chester High in the Division VI playoffs Tuesday in Princeton.
No. 7 Princeton faced a 1-3-1 trap defense for the first time this season and struggled to contend with the No. 10 Volcanoes' speed and aggressiveness, which forced the Eagles into turnovers and contested shots.
"Their defense was impressive, (Aaron Hardesty is) a really good coach. It was a good thing to run against us because our base set is a 1-3-1 offense," Princeton coach Nate Odom said.
Princeton built an 18-7 record this year and won the Pioneer-Valley League title on the strength of their shooters, but even when they beat the trap, the open shots just wouldn't fall. They even struggled at the free-throw line, shooting just 6 for 19.
"You can't have good shooting nights all the time," Odom said.
Aside from a stretch in the second quarter and the final minutes of the game, Princeton made the game competitive.
It was tied 11-11 early in the second quarter when the Volcanoes went on a 14-0 run that included two 3-pointers by point guard McKenna Taylor, who is averaging 18.2 points a game, and one by Miranda Lemons.
By the end of the half, Chester led 25-13.
"At halftime, even though they had that horrible second quarter, they were still upbeat, they were ready to go out and play. I felt they worked really hard," Odom said about his team.
The Eagles rallied in the third quarter, cutting the lead to seven with a 11-6 run before Taylor hit two more 3-pointers and pushed Chester's lead to 15.
Maryssa Martin scored four consecutive points, cutting the score to 42-32 with about four minutes remaining, but the Eagles were unable to close the rest of the gap.
Martin led the Eagles with 16 points, and Julia Romo and Amanda Hansen added five points each.
Taylor led Chester with 24 points and Rebecca Branch added eight.
Princeton loses just two seniors to graduation, forward Gaby Rodriguez, who scored four points, and Natalia Carreon, who added one point.
Leading scorers Martin and Hansen return, and Odom expects sophomore guard Arianna Ilharreguy and Romo, a junior forward, to take on some of the scoring duties Rodriguez leaves behind.
Ilharreguy hit a 3-pointer and her confidence grew throughout the season, and Romo is an intelligent player who puts herself in position to make plays, Odom said.
Chester (14-13, 6-6 Five Star) advances to the second round on Friday where they take on No. 2 Hayfork. Princeton's season is complete.
"We came in here with big time respect for (Chester). Even though they're a No. 10 seed, we kind of felt like they're one of the best teams. I'm happy with the way the girls played against them tonight," Odom said.
CONTACT Kirk Barron at 458-2121 or email@example.com.