By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– Meagan Mendazona put it best following Central’s tough season opening 41-37 overtime loss to Churchill Wednesday, and that is there’s not going to be any easy games on their schedule this season.
The Lancers proved just that as they turned a 9-2 second quarter deficit into a 33-30 lead entering the fourth quarter thanks to taking advantage of the Panthers turnovers during the game to swing the momentum into their favor.
Head Coach Julie McDonald was surprised to see what is a physical team that she has not being up to their potential as Churchill was able to out-rebound and being pushed around, but also mentions too that it is a long season and just chalks it up as first-game jitters.
“I was surprised that we were getting out-rebounded and pushed around. But it’s jitters, first game,” said McDonald. “We turned the ball over at crucial times when we shouldn’t have. We didn’t need too, there wasn’t pressure there. You know we got a long season to work on it, but people need to take charge and step up and want to take the game-winning bucket. So we’re working on that with some leaders on the team and we’ll improve.”
Annika Riddell tied the game up at 33 with an And-one as the defense held the Lancers to three points over the final six minutes of the game, but turnovers kept Central from doing more damage than Chavez free throw and a contested lay-in that combined that had tied the game up at 36.
Nonetheless the Panthers had one last crack for the regulation win as Katelyn Trevino nabbed down a rebound and progressed it up court with under 30 seconds to go. Eventually Trevino, who finished with nine points in the game, got the ball after it was maneuvered around until a clean shot was available when Trevino let it rip with about three seconds to go.
It bounced out and Riddell got the rebound but wasn’t able to get the put-back in time before the regulation buzzer went off.
“I mean it’s good for us to get that experience so that later down the road we’re ready for those kind of situations, from here all where we can go is up,” said Mendazona on the game. The Junior finished with 13 points in the game.
In the overtime period, Central found themselves down one when they dialed up a play for Chavez by the hoop with 30 seconds remaining, but Mendazona’s laser of a pass slipped out of Chavez’ hands and out-of-bounds.
The Panthers did try to jam-up the inbound pass to try to get the ball back, but no luck as the Lancers beat the count just in time to force Central to foul and iced the game at the line.
And as Mendazona eluded too, there’s not going to be any easy teams out there for them this season and that the only way is up as they now turn their focus to Stayton Friday night at home. The Lady Eagles too are coming off an Overtime game, winning 43-36 over Seaside with both teams looking to improve off of Wednesday’s season opener.
“Tomorrow we’re going to hit practice hard and fine tune everything. Put this game behind us,” said Mendazona.
Tip off is at 5:30pm Friday evening.