Los Banos High’s varsity girls basketball team maintained its dominance over Pacheco with a 44-41 victory on Thursday at Pacheco, but the Tigers needed every bucket to survive an inspired Pacheco team.
With guards Jacquelin Arretche and Nicole Marchese sitting on the bench with foul trouble, 5-foot-3 guard Elena Errece took over for the Tigers, draining three 3-pointers in the third quarter to give LB a 33-31 lead, which Pacheco was never able to take back. Erreca finished with 11 points, all of them in the third quarter.
“I was just getting frustrated, and Coach always tells me that someone needs to step up, he says, you need to step up,” Erreca said. “So I was happy I finally actually, how do I put this? Did something more than usual?”
A wave of fouls against Los Banos kept the Tigers frustrated throughout the game (LB was called for 23 fouls against Pacheco’s 13) but Los Banos coach Danny Crosby didn’t let that color his view of the game.
“I told you, they’ll step up for a game like this, because it’s crosstown rivals,” Crsby said. “Pacheco’s girls did an excellent job. I’m not going to take anything from them. I’m not going to let the officiating spoil the hard work and the things that they did. They did what they had to do to play, and we made the adjustments we needed to play with the officiating, and it worked out for us.”
Pacheco jumped out to an early lead, and led by as much as 26-21 early in the third quarter before LB came back to take the lead. But the Panthers stayed close, where in the past they had a habit of crumbling in similar situations.
“One thing we talked about yesterday, and one thing I’m really proud of, was don’t make a mountain out of a molehill,” Pacheco coach Michael Perkins said. “Our tendency has been, we make a mistake and it falls apart, and it cascades. We didn’t let that happen today. There were times when we were making mistakes, but we responded to it.”
Arretche led the Tigers with 14 points, but Pacheco guard Sam Rodriguez led all scorers with 22 points. Where Pacheco made a key difference was in the post, where sophomore Emily Ocampo and wings Isabel Quintero and Maggie Morales made things difficult for LB’s normally-strong post game.
“I think Emily’s really stepped up down there,” Perkins said. “She’s a sophomore, she’s on varsity, I’ve been waiting for her to kind of have a coming-of-age moment, and she played well tonight. Not perfect, but she played better than she has all season, enough that when we had her in there, she did really good things, finished some opportunities for us.”
Erreca played a key role late in the game, turning the ball over out of bounds on the sideline with 21 seconds remaining. Pacheco turned the ball right back over on the inbounds pass, and a foul put Erreca on the line for a 1-and-1. She missed the free throw, but teammate Savannah Pena was there to put the rebound through the hoop with just a few second left.
“I knew she had my back. She always does,” Erreca said. “I thought it was going in, too. But I knew it would be OK. I was happy Savannah did that. It was a game changer.”