Unfortunately the Lady Monarchs of Exeter High had plans of their own. Exeter dominated Porterville 44-11 in their tourney opener, and dismantled Washington Union 58 - 22 in their second game.
The championship game would also end with the Lady Monarchs on top 43-18, getting the first place finish in the tournament.
Strathmore struggled to get their offense going for the entire first half of the game, and were held to just eight points. Defensively the Lady Spartans could not stop Exeter’s sophomore center, Olivia Harden, who equaled Strathmore’s point total on her own, with eight points in the first half.
Strathmore sophomore captain Maria Hernandez, tried to carry her team on offense in the second, dribbling the ball coast to coast and drawing fouls. Only problem was, that Hernandez was unable to capitalize at the foul line, making five of 18 of her foul shots on the night.
The Lady Spartans were able to find some success on defense in the third quarter of the game, with Strathmore Coach Richard Miranda decided to play a 2-3 zone instead of man-to-man. The zone caused some problems for Exeter, and Strathmore held the Lady Monarchs to just one point in the third, however, the Lady Spartans were only able to get three points on offense, and could not penetrate Exeter’s defense.
“I think they just wanted it more,” Miranda said. “Our girls just didn’t play with enough heart tonight.”
Exeters Coach Gary Hylton decided to put his starters back in at the start of the fourth, and the Lady Monarchs went on a 17-3 run to end the game and grab the first place trophy.
Kathy Rodriguez and Hernandez were the only Lady Spartans to score field goals in the game. Hernandez ended her night with seven points, and Rodriguez contributed four.
Strathmore advanced to the finals with a 52-24 win over Paramount Thursday.
Sophomore Mariah Hernandez paced the Lady Spartans with 16 points and nine steals. Senior Kandyce Gurrola added 15 points, while sophomore Kathy Rodriquez grabbed a team-high nine rebounds.
SCORE BY QUARTERS:
EHS: 13 12 1 17- 43
SHS: 3 5 7 3 - 18
Points: Strathmore- Maria Hernandez, 7;