Pacheco girls basketball team struggles to find footing in loss to Atwater

dwitte@losbanosenterprise.comDecember 13, 2013 

The Pacheco High girls basketball team was looking for a challenge in its nonconference game Monday against Atwater, and the Falcons gave it to them, defeating the Panthers 44-26.

Pacheco scored more points in the fourth quarter (14) than it did in the other three combined (12).

“We just didn’t have the focus and intensity that we needed to compete against a good team tonight. We were just flat. Extremely flat,” Pacheco coach Michael Perkins said.

“Like I told them (Monday), you bury yourself in a hole until the fourth quarter, and then you decide to play, there’s no room for error. We chipped away a little bit, but we made mistakes. Any chance you had at that point of making a run at them, at that point it’s done because there’s no margin for error.”

Pacheco’s two main scoring threats put their points on the board – guard Sam Rodriguez scored 10 and wing Maggie Morales added 9 – but Atwater’s duo of guard Mayra Mora (16 points) and forward Chynna Peterson (10) made the difference.

The growing emergence of freshman center Jade Pacheco and sophomore center Emily Ocampo, who accounted for a handful of rebounds, gave senior Isabel Quintero a chance to slide into her more natural position of forward.

“We knew it was going to be a process and we’re playing a freshman center and a sophomore center who had been playing behind Isabel up to this point,” Perkins said. “It’s been a process for them, and we’re starting to see more positives out of both of them, which is a good thing for us. We wanted to have that competition in practice, so when we get in games, they have the confidence to compete in the game.”

But with 40 turnovers in the game, Pacheco gave up too many chances for a comeback, especially after managing just 3 points in the second quarter and 2 in the third, which led to a reality check in the fourth quarter.

“It was just a game where we weren’t focused, and in the fourth quarter we talked, and I said, ‘We talked before the season that we wouldn’t be a team that teams laughed at when they came to our gym,’ ” Perkins said. “And I told them, ‘Look, they’re laughing at you right now.’ They literally were. I wouldn’t have said it otherwise. They were laughing, the JV girls for them were up there laughing at them. I think that was kind of like, ‘Whoa, we need to play.’ And we came out a little more focused.”

Atwater started the game with full-court pressure, but even after they backed off, Pacheco’s offense was still off kilter. Perkins attributed that to a lack of flow.

“It’s tough to explain. When you’re an athlete, they call it the flow. Where everything feels good, it feels natural,” Perkins said. “Other times you take the floor, and everything feels like it’s off step. Everything feels like it’s off rhythm, and we had too many girls in that state tonight. Like a lot of the turnovers we beat the press, but then we traveled with it. Or we threw the ball out of bounds.”

Pacheco (3-2) opened the Alisal Tournament in Salinas against defending Central Coast Section Division 3 champion Burlingame. Results were unavailable at press time. Perkins said the team needed tests like Atwater and Burlingame.

“I’m a soccer fan, and the U.S. drew one of the toughest groups (in the World Cup). They drew Germany, Portugal and Ghana. They call it the Group of Death,” Perkins said. “And people are like, aw man, that’s terrible. I don’t know if that’s terrible. You walk into a group of death, no one outside of Germany is expected to walk out of that group. Everyone else is like I don’t know if we can win. That’s what you want.

I think you want to walk into a group like that where you know you’ll be challenged, and if you walk through it and survive it, you’ve earned it. I think you want to go up against a Burlingame. You don’t want to get your teeth kicked in every day, but you want to go against those types of teams, because they’re a challenge.”

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