Mendota hands Dos Palos first league loss

Dos Palos’ girls basketball team hit its first speed bump in league play on Tuesday, dropping a 54-40 decision to Mendota to finish the first round of West Sierra League play.

The Broncos got into early foul trouble, with post players Lyric Anderson and Abagale Croninger each earning three fouls in the game’s first five minutes. All told, Dos Palos committed 29 fouls while three of its players fouled out.

“It affected it a lot. I wasn’t aware they were in foul trouble at three fouls each in the first quarter,” Dos Palos coach Brandy Weaver said. “We did good even with pulling them out, we were playing a decent game. We still played the way I expected them to play, but after halftime, everybody was in foul trouble.

“So they started playing more timid and laid back. They were afraid to go for the ball, afraid to shoot, afraid to play defense.”

Even with the smaller lineup, the Broncos led 23-18 at halftime on the strength of Kayla Hall’s 14 points. After the half, though, Mendota’s Maria Lopez took over, racking up 10 points and seven rebounds in the third quarter alone.

“She’s one of our best players, our senior captain. She’s a real player,” Mendota coach Jose Reyes said. “She has her down moments, but that’s who she is, she can take over games. At the end of the game, you want the ball in her hands.”

Mendota went to a full-court trapping defense in the second half, and Dos Palos wasn’t able to respond, at one point giving the ball away on six consecutive possessions. After a back-and-forth fourth quarter, the Aztecs went on a 10-1 run to start the fourth, and Dos Palos never threatened again.

DP’s Hall and Mendota’s Lopez and Dania Guevara each finished with 19 points. Lopez finished with 16 rebounds and Guevara had 11. Anderson led DP (12-3, 4-1) with 11 boards, and Hall added nine.

The win left Mendota (11-9, 5-0) in sole possession of first place in the WSL, halfway through league play.

“It’s a kick-start. Coming in from the preseason, I know we didn’t start off as we have the last two years,” Reyes said. “Obviously the goals are to get to playoffs and get better, and knowing coming into league that DP was one of our toughest opponents to come, every time, it’s a boost for our girls.”