Although the team started out with seven, there were only four players remaining on the court near the end of the game, and keeping the ball – and their lead – was becoming more and more difficult as the clock ticked away the last few minutes.
But despite El Dorado Adventist’s aggressive playing, the varsity girls pulled through with a 54-48 win on Feb. 9.
Overall, the game started out slowly for the Cavs, with El Dorado leading throughout the first half.
“They were all taller than most of us, so they got a lot of their rebounds at first,” sophomore Emily Hayes said. “We were a little off our game at first, but we picked up pretty quickly.”
After that, it was relatively smooth sailing until the last few minutes.
The game had been very foul-heavy, as the other team was more aggressive than in the last game on Jan. 5, according to sophomore Heidi Johnson.
By the fourth quarter, all the fouls piled up. The girls went out like dominoes: first junior Yasmin Gupta, then Hayes and finally junior Katia Dahmani.
It was three of El Dorado’s players out for three of the Cavs’, resulting in more fouled-out players this game than any other.
After the three were benched, the remaining players were spread thin on defense, allowing El Dorado to lessen the divide – even getting within one point of the Cavs’ score.
It was survival mode.
“Playing with only four teammates probably made us work even harder and want to win even more,” junior Esme Bruce-Romo said.
Junior Annya Dahmani said that they were trying to run the clock down as much as possible.
Dahmani, the leading scorer along with Gupta (18 points each), made several key free throws near the end of the game, as did Johnson, securing the win.
But the game wouldn’t have been as close had the girls been more careful about fouls, excluding the ones that were caused by the other team’s aggressiveness.
“We had some silly fouls we shouldn’t have made,” Johnson said.
Coach Latonia Pitts agreed.
“We have to move our feet and not reach across the opponent’s body,” she said. “Some of the fouls could have been avoided by getting to our position a little sooner.”
Fouls were also due to bad calls.
Hayes called one ref “terrible.”
“(He made) calls against us that aren’t there and (didn’t) call things on the other team,” she said.
Although the copious fouls left the Cavs down a player with no subs near the end of the game, the fouls also took out the other team’s best player, ripping a chunk out of El Dorado’s armor.
The game was full of ups and downs, but it all balanced out in the end, giving the team another win against El Dorado.
And coach Latonia Pitts commended the last standing players for how they played in the final minutes.
“The remaining four were truly the ‘fantastic four,’” she said.
“(Junior) Riya (Rampalli) took a charge and sustained an injury with about two minutes left. Esme (Bruce-Romo) stepped up on the boards. Annya had strong defense and hit some clutch free throws. Heidi (Johnson) stayed very active on both ends of the floor, and that showed with her ending the game with a triple double.
“All the girls had moments in the game (where) they could have given up, but they kept up the energy, believing in each other and giving all they had.”
The next game is against Valley Christian, the team’s biggest rival, and the second-to-last game of the league season. It will be at home at 6 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 13.