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Photo by Gerald Castillo

San Marcos tests Austin High, comes up short in 42-30 district loss

San Marcos Girls' Basketball
Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Austin High's dominance in the district dates back to last season where the team only lost one game and only five of its 13 District 26-6A contests ended within single digits. This year the team is 3-0 in district play and has won by an average margin of 13.3 points per game — each by double figures. 

The Lady Maroons’ dominance continued on the road against the Lady Rattlers as they outscored San Marcos 16-5 in the fourth quarter to steal a 42-30 win on Tuesday night inside the Snake Pit.

“Like I told the girls, they didn't play their best game this night but they fought because we were right there,” San Marcos head coach Jermaine Ervin said. “I can't say that they didn’t fight because sometimes you have to get out of what you normally do and when you can’t do that, you find another way and they found another way tonight. I was proud of them for that fact.”

In the opening frame, the hosts looked like they had the reigning district champs shook. Everyone was playing their roles — senior guard Vivian Hernandez opened the game with multiple 3s, forcing the defense to shorten rotations to her side. That allowed senior guard Angelina Sotelo to make plays from the wings. The guard received a screen from junior forward Amiya Moore before throwing a pocket pass to the forward between two Lady Maroon defenders for a layup and an 11-6 advantage early. The bucket elated San Marcos (16-7, 2-2 district), and forced its opponent to call a timeout.

But things got out of whack for the purple and white in the second quarter. Hernandez sat most of the quarter and asked to come out for personal reasons and multiple players picked up three fouls before halftime. With players in foul trouble, it forced the hosts to switch to a rotation with less ball-handlers.

“The fouls kind of accumulated on us and now we're not playing with our three guards,” Ervin said. “We're playing with two guards, two forwards and post. We don't have our guards where we can normally get our cuts, get our backside reversals and then our posts can go score. We got stuck at a point where we had a lot of girls out there that are not primary or secondary ball-handlers.”

The personnel change resulted in seven straight turnovers for the Lady Rattlers, which allowed Austin High (17-2, 3-0) to get fast breaks and put pressure on San Marcos’ transition defense, regaining a 20-18 lead going into the break. 

Ervin felt like it was the turning point in the game.

“In that second quarter, we gave them life again,” Ervin said. “You took life away from them in the first quarter and then we gave it back to them in the second and now you're in a dogfight because they are the champs. They know what that feels like. We were trying to figure out what it feels like. So I give Austin a lot of credit.”

With a shortened rotation and less ball-handlers in the game, San Marcos was forced to resort to more of a defensive approach to hang close with the district champs. The third quarter was indicative of that. Each team struggled to get any offensive flow going. Only one bucket was scored between both teams in the first four minutes of the quarter — a layup by Austin High’s Kemah Shaw. 

The Lady Maroons led 26-18 with San Marcos being held scoreless in the quarter. San Marcos was held scoreless until the last 1:30 of the quarter then went on to score all seven of its third quarter points in that time span to keep it close. 

Senior wing Dede Pierson hit two free throws which put San Marcos up 27-26. It seemed like the basketball was all over the place but it kept ending up in the visitors’ hands. A prime example was when Senaida Barrientos fell to the ground, picked the ball up and still threw an assist from the floor to a cutting teammate in Maroon. Barrientos scored or assisted on eight straight points to give Austin High a 34-27 lead with 3:40 left. 

This little hustle plays added up in the end, which Ervin said caught his team by surprise.

“The plays that we've been getting all year, they got and we're not used to seeing that,” Ervin said. “Those are the plays, the hustle plays that we get. And it just kind of stumbled us for a minute. By the time we could get back on our feet, that one-point lead that we had turned into a 10-point lead for them.”

The lead kept growing as the Lady Maroons kept getting transition opportunities and consecutive and-ones, resulting in the defending district champs edging out a 42-30 win over San Marcos. Ervin knows every night is going to be a test for the Lady Rattlers in District 26-6A.

“Every team is tough,” Ervin said. “You can't take a breath because everybody's fighting for second, third and fourth, everybody's still fighting. OK, we're in second place, let's go get first place. OK, now we're in third place, let’s go try to get second place. And you know, in the meeting, we're just trying to navigate through, try to keep these girls healthy and have an opportunity to play these games out.”

San Marcos will return to the floor this Friday against Del Valle (3-10, 0-3) inside the Snake Pit at 7 p.m. with the hopes of fighting for second place in the district.

San Marcos Record

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