Above: Roswell’s Sheyanne Sandoval (12) gets by two Lady Rockets defenders and drives hard towards the hoop for two points in the second quarter of the Lady Coyotes’ win in the District 4-5A tournament championship game Friday night at RHS (David Rocha Photo).
The Roswell Lady Coyote basketball team ran roughshod all over the visiting Goddard Lady Rocket team 67-32 to claim the District 4-5A tournament title Friday night at the Coyote Den.
The Coyotes got big performances from Gali Sanchez and Jaedyn De La Cerda all night and on both ends of the court as the Coyotes got a sense of redemption after falling in last year’s title game.
The Rockets, playing in the title game for the first time in over a decade, did their best to keep up with the hosts, but simply could not match the Coyotes’ quickness and depth. A near perfect second quarter by the Coyotes all but sealed up the win.
“We’ve got a pretty good winning streak going,” said a happy Roswell head coach Joe Carpenter. “(Tonight) we had our starting post out and we’re hoping she comes back so it was real fun to see the girls share the ball and get some things accomplished.”
The Rockets got off to a quick start as senior Jenna Hernandez hit her first two attempts to get Goddard off to a 4-2 lead. It would prove to be their only advantage of the game, however, as Sanchez answered right back with a 3-pointers of her own to take over the lead and start a 10-0 run for the Coyotes.
The Rockets, meanwhile, got stuck in a dry spell while everything started to click for the Coyotes. Goddard’s Cheyenne Lopez eventually stopped the run with a basket off of a nice pass from Camaryn Villalpondo, and then Micaela Kolker followed with a steal and layup to cut the Coyote lead to 16-10.
Deavion Allen banked in a 3 at the buzzer to give the Coyotes a 19-10 lead heading into the deciding second quarter.
The Coyotes played near perfect on defense in the second quarter as they outscored the Rockets 22-5 to all but wrap up the game.
“We had some real good instincts and we were able to steal some balls,” Carpenter said. “We were able to close off the penetration a lot and so we were getting both – pressure outside and stopping penetration and when that happens it looks like we’re playing pretty good defense.”
With the score 21-12, the Coyotes used their trademark press to rack up the steals, and points, as Roswell went on a 11-0 run as every single basket came via a steal on the defensive end.
Sanchez was the beneficiary on the first three baskets in the run. Sanchez, who was named first team All-District, finished with 25 points on the night.
Bailey Beene finally got one to fall to stop the bleeding, but the Coyotes finished the quarter on a 9-1 run to go up 41-15 at the break.
Sanchez and De La Cerda, the District 4-5A MVP, combined for 28 points at the half.
Coach Carpenter was very pleased with his two leaders.
“Both of them are my MVPs. They’re both all district first-teamers and I do believe Gali has had just as good a year as De La Cerda. It’s been outstanding and fun to see and we’re going to have to rely on their leadership down the stretch.”
The Rockets had their best quarter after the break as they played on pretty even terms in the third quarter.
Hernandez nailed the first trey for the Rockets and Villalpondo followed with a deuce to make it 44-20, but De La Cerda had an answer as she drove the baseline and scored to make it 46-20 with 5:15 to remaining.
Sanchez and Goddard’s Katherine Kolker would trade threes before Sanchez scored again late off of a nice inbounds play that made it 56-28 heading into the final frame.
The Coyotes (23-2) slowly stretched their lead in the final quarter as they kept up the press in the beginning to make it 63-28 before Beene and Micaela Kolker each hit some free throws to stem at least some of the momentum.
The Rockets (13-14) could only manage four free throws in the quarter and the Coyotes eventually closed out the game with the 67-32 victory.
Roswell, winning its 14th straight game, now await its state tournament seed. The Coyotes will likely recieve the No. 2 seed, which would give them a home game next Friday in the tournament’s opening round. The Rockets are also probably assured of a state playoff berth, but will more than likely have to travel for the first round.
Roswell’s Carpenter is looking forward to the challenge of the upcoming state tourney.
“I don’t want to overlook Friday (first round) – sometimes when you play teams from outside your region it’s kind of awkward. Hopefully we get a good draw and a good favorable matchup and we end up at the Pit. That’s the plan.”