Minutemen’s press generates 25 turnovers, fuels second-half resurgence
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The first time Memorial employed its full court press, it didn’t seem to rattle host Medina Valley a bit. So, the second time, the Minutemen applied the wall-to-wall pressure more forcefully in the crucial District 29-4A showdown.
Memorial (11-19, 6-7) forced 25 turnovers, many from its press, and gained the ball on three 10-second counts in the backcourt. The Minutemen forced 16 second-half turnovers and finished the game on an 11-6 run for a 53-46 victory last Saturday in Castroville.
“In the first half, we used it to tire them out,” Memorial coach Jon Sanchez said. “In the second half, their passes got slower and they weren’t going to the basket as much. We got a few steals, and the kids got excited”
The Memorial players noticed something about Medina Valley’s top player, 6-foot-5 Joseph Dauphin, at halftime that inspired them to come back from a 27-17 halftime deficit.
“That was the time for us to go for the kill,” said Memorial senior Joe Aguilar, who made three key free throws in the last 30 seconds to seal the win. “(Dauphin) was gasping for air.”
The win, in a game postponed nearly 24 hours because of icy conditions, put the Minutemen on the verge of the playoffs. The top four finishers in each district qualify for the playoffs
Memorial needed to win Tuesday’s scheduled game against rival Kennedy (5-24, 3-10) to secure its first playoff berth in five years. Central Catholic, Edison, East Central, Harlandale, Highlands, Lanier, McCollum and Sam Houston are the area teams that have qualified for the playoffs so far.
“We just want to make it,” said junior Bryan Obregon, who led Memorial with 25 points. “Everyone was doubting us.”
The Panthers (14-17, 5-8) led until 6:24 remained in the game. They weathered the storm when the Minutemen went to the press after trailing 20-9 with 5:15 until halftime. Memorial only managed to shave six points off the lead before Medina Valley hit it with anther scoring spurt.
The press’ impact was immediate in the second half. Obregon hit a three-point basket that cut the Panthers’ lead to seven. Obregon scored off a steal and Aguilar made a three-pointer in succession to bring Memorial within 29-25 with 4:59 left in the third quarter.
Jose Pargas tied it 36-36 at the third-quarter buzzer. A three-pointer from Albert Machado and a layup from Obregon off a steal put Memorial in the lead to stay.
MORE TO COME