East County Sports

Matadors overwhelm challenge of Hillers



By Dave Dickens



EL CAJON (1-21-2022) — To head coach Robbie Sandoval and his Mount Miguel Lady Matadors, records mean nothing unless you defeat his squad.


Folks, always keep in mind the strength of schedule and what is proven on the floor in those precious four quarters.


As per the usual Lady Matador recipe according to Zanna Hurst, Danay Williams-Pope, and Nataly Bravo, they like to try different strategies and they feel the opponent out in the first quarter to try different play calls and just all around different looks. What an observer sees is to find the biggest weakness on offense or defense and then game plan on how to exploit it for the next three quarters.


Thus, you’ll see much closer scores between the Lady Matadors and their opponents, as they began Friday night versus the Grossmont Lady Foothillers. The Lady Foothillers were able to keep it close, so they thought. As head coach Grace Campbell even told her players, “To be down only nine points behind this team is good.”


Campbell also ensured that they knew they had to play a tight game and especially avoid turnovers. At the end of the first quarter, the Lady Matadors led, 19-10. 


“We came out in the first half playing really well and brought lots of energy. We pressed pretty much the entire game with the exception of a couple of times where we just wanted to try something different to see how it would work. Danay picked up a few fouls early in the first and the second quarter. Therefore, she had to sit out most of the third quarter. My shots weren’t really falling so I do what I usually do if that situation arises, try to do whatever I can on defense to get the ball back to my teammates to help us win,” said Hurst.


As the second quarter approached, it was evident that the Lady Matadors wanted to put this Grossmont Hills League contest away.


It was a mixture of steals, in which Mount Miguel had 25 total in the game, along with a few blocked shots, some press, and the Lady Hillers hurting themselves by turning the ball over quite a few times in the second quarter, basically shifting the momentum to complete control of the Lady Matadors, and the lead of 48-14 at the half.


Mount Miguel came out with a player of the bench, Yaneli Rosales, who didn’t do too bad, as she put up six points, three rebounds, and three steals, also assisting with the press on defense, however.


Coach Sandoval eased up on the press toward the middle of the third quarter, as the Lady Foothillers played much better defense and got a few shots off, as they would match the Lady Matadors at 15 points apiece in the third quarter, with the score now 63-29, in favor of Mount Miguel.


Amazingly, the Lady Hillers continued to play hard as it showed in the total points scored in the fourth quarter, 14-10, Grossmont, but had buried themselves in the first half, as the visiting Lady Matadors, now picked up another win to improve to 12-5 and 2-0 in the GHL, with the final, 73-43, in favor of the Lady Matadors. Grossmont now sits at 10-2 (1-1 GHL). 


Leading scorer for the Lady Matadors, Jennifer Moreno, fresh off a foot injury, picked a great time to come back and assist her team. Moreno showcased that she hadn’t lost any speed or anything else, putting up some beautiful shots totaling 16, including three three-pointers, four rebounds, and four steals.


Bravo has been at the top of her game as of late, due to Moreno being out for some time.


Many of the Lady Matadors took over each night in her absence. Bravo, on Friday night, put up 16 points, a rebound, an assist, and three steals.


It was almost like a friendly little mini showcase for Bravo as she is very close to a lot of the Lady Foothillers.


“I’ve known the coaches and some of the players from Grossmont since my freshman year, I even played club ball with some of them. It was very exciting to see them again and to play against them. They gave me a lot of motivation to play hard, as my team also did a great job tonight and we all worked together. Both teams left everything on the court, and it was a really fun game to play,” Bravo said.


As aforementioned, it seemed as if Williams-Pope was being pushed to foul out, especially since she is the only big on the squad.


“I felt as if the opponent tried to take me out of the game early, as the goal was to put me into foul trouble in the first half. Having Jennifer Moreno back was exciting, seeing her back on the court with the team was nice, and she was playing as if she never got injured in the first place,” Williams-Pope said.


Williams-Pope had 15 total points, four rebounds, four steals, and two blocks.


Also impressive was Ixchel Rojo, with 15 total points, two rebounds, five assists, and seven steals.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *