EL CENTRO — Only traces of feathers remained in El Centro Tuesday night as the Brawley Lady Wildcats gobbled up the Southwest Eagles 41-23 to remain in contention for the top spot in the girls’ Varsity basketball Imperial Valley League.
The Wildcats clawed at the nylon early as shooting guard Ashlyn Taylor turned on the lights from downtown hanging up three quick points on the scoreboard.
Southwest guard Karynna Vega made three points the old-fashioned way on a layup from the left side, plus a foul and a converted free-throw shot to tie the contest up at 3-3 in the game’s first minutes. Jacqueline Quintero put the Eagles up 5-3 when she laid one in from the left side.
Southwest’s lead was short-lived as Brawley’s Hannah Duran scored a runner, and Nicole Villalobos hit the games second three, while Taylor tugged the bottom of the net again on a long ball from the left wing to give the Lady Wildcats an 11-5 advantage with 3:16 left in the first quarter.
The Eagles’ Adrea Aguilar put back her own missed shot, but Brawley’s Destiny Gonder gashed the Eagles on two consecutive layups to finish up the opening period ahead, 15-7.
The Wildcats continued their attack as they opened the second quarter with another two unanswered made shots by Aguilar and Gonder that ballooned the lead to 19-7.
Brawley closed out the rest of the third outscoring Southwest 11-6. Gonder put in eight points on the Wildcat run and Alize Garcia added two of her own on a cutting finish at the basket.
When the Eagles appeared to sputter offensively, Brianna Antonio knocked down a short jumper with time winding down to give Southwest a breath of hope going into the half down 31-13.
A bruised up back iron and lot of bad bounces explained why both squads only traded a bucket and a free-throw for a combined total of six points in the third quarter, to put the game at 34-16 heading into the final period.
Tsiona Overton buried a three pointer from the right corner for Brawley to start off the fourth, as the Wildcats began to lick their chops as the severely wounded Eagles were down by over 20 points at 37-16.
Southwest fought back to outscore Brawley 5-4 in the final 6 minutes, but the Lady Wildcats gripped the lead tightly as they held on 41-23.
“We moved the ball well and we had good energy,” said James Haley, Brawley girls’ Varsity head coach. “Our girls are starting to pick up the offense a little bit, and defense. We have another three games left, so I feel good about it because we can compete with anybody.”
The Lady Wildcats play in Calexico Friday, February 10 at 7 p.m. With a bye tripping up the front running Lady Bulldogs, Brawley could tie for first place in IVL and avenge its only IVL loss.