The Lady Vaqueros (6-19) faced the Los Angeles Valley College Monarchs (17-12) on Feb. 18 in Glendale. The Vaqueros struggled throughout the game and lost to the Monarchs 55-68.
The Vaqueros started the game going 0-7, which helped the Monarchs gain a huge lead. Alexandra Mancillas plays both guard and forward credited nerves to the Vaqueros’ slow start.
“The last game of the season, we wanted to come out strong. Instead [I] came out nervous and it led to our shots not falling through,” said Mancillas.
The Monarchs increased the lead in the winding minutes of the first half. They took advantage of the Vaqueros’ poor shot selection and turned it into easy fast break opportunities.
Head Coach Carrie Miller felt that the team struggled shooting but showed a lot of heart and determination throughout the game.
“We struggled scoring and finishing near the rim. Nerves and anxiety lead to our poor shooting,” said Miller. “But this team showed its heart by never giving up.”
The Vaqueros went into halftime down by double digits. There were no signs of quitting, as each player entered the locker room with her head held high.
The second half started with the Vaqueros shutting down the Monarchs and forcing them to commit multiple turnovers.
Jenee Stevenson was a force to be reckoned with in the second half, battling multiple defenders to grab a rebound and passing the open player and controlling the tempo of the game.
She finished with a double-double, scoring 15 points and 12 rebounds on limited shot attempts. She also finished with a bloody eye after getting fouled hard in the second half.
“I don’t want to lose,” said Stevenson. “I am going to play hard until the final whistle. We started the game nervous but came out in the second half with confidence.”
Thanks to Stevenson’s hustle and the sharp shooting of Linda Rivas, the Vaqueros cut the Monarchs’ lead to single digits.
Michelle Eclar had a solid game, scoring 11 points, dishing out seven assists and six steals. Eclar occasionally took bad shots, but redeemed herself with a solid overall performance.
The poor tendencies that caused the previous deficit resurfaced in the middle of the Vaquero comeback. Assists turned into turnovers and points turned into forced shots. The Monarchs’ lead increased as the Vaqueros’ chances of winning disappeared.
“We needed to pass the ball more and stop forcing up bad shots. We let them get too many second chance points and couldn’t keep up,” said Rivas.
The game ended in the same fashion as the season, in utter disappointment. However, the season was a work in progress as the team was filled with freshmen. The Vaqueros grew in great stride and showed unity.
“We came a long way from where we started to where we ended. Our confidence grew with every passing game,” said Miller.
With nine returning players, the Vaqueros will be loaded with veteran leadership next season. It’s a strong foundation to start with. They ended the season 6-20.