Defense, rebounding carry Knights
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Holy Cross.
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A week before Holy Cross’ game against San Antonio Christian Saturday, Knights point guard Brianna Sallinas left the same gym in a stretcher.
Salinas was taken to Christus Santa Rosa Hospital after colliding with the Holy Cross gym wall. The junior had been pushed by a Corpus Christi John Paul II defender who tried to foul her after making a steal and going in for a layup.
Her return for the San Antonio Christian game was nothing short of triumphant. Salinas scored eight points and sparked the Knights’ defense to a 39-34 victory that enabled Holy Cross (15-10, 7-3) to vault past the Lions into third place in TAPPS District 4-4A.
“I was really nervous,” Salinas said. “It was my first game back.”
In fact, Salinas hadn’t been able to practice in the week following the accident, so she had to miss the Knights’ 40-32 win over Cornerstone Christian Tuesday. She said she had been experiencing back spasms.
“I didn’t know how long she’d be able to (play),” Holy Cross coach Jesse Arguello confessed, “but she looked like her old self to me.”
San Antonio Christian (21-7, 6-4) established a slim 11-9 first-quarter lead. The Knights had to overcome turnovers and cold shooting in first and last quarters to claim their fourth-straight district win since losing Jan. 9 to first-place Victoria St. Joseph.
“It was definitely a defensive struggle,” San Antonio Christian coach Brian Hannas said. “There was a lot of intensity and it was sort of a playoff atmosphere. It was good for our young girls to grow up.”
The Lions, who defeated the Knights 50-39 Dec. 9, have four freshman and two sophomores on their roster. Their leading scorer, Caroline Carruth (10 points, 8 rebounds) fouled out on a disputed call little more than two minutes into the second half with Holy Cross leading 27-22.
“We played defense much better (than Dec. 9),” Arguello said. “We didn’t give away layups. This was our best rebounding game ever. We definitely took a big step. And it helped having our point guard scoring. She only had one point against them last time.”
Holy Cross senior Hayley Andrade (11 points, 5 rebounds, 3 steals) nailed a three-point shot to tie the score 18-18 with 2:58 left, beginning a 9-4 spurt until Carruth’s dismissal. Salinas (6 points, 4 steals), who said she was trying to avoid contact, followed with a steal and assist to volleyball all-stater Victoria Gonzalez (8 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists) for a layup.
The teams combined to score just nine points in the fourth quarter.
Camryn Hannas, the Lions coach’s daughter, hit a three-pointer that brought San Antonio Christian within 36-33 with 3:15 remaining. The Lions’ Haley Hodges added a free throw, but the visitors came no closer. Andrade sank two free throws and Salinas made one in the final minute to seal the win.
Holy Cross senior Megan Hernandez supplied 10 points eight rebounds.
“It just came down to free throws,” Salinas said. “We rushed a lot of things on offense, but I think we did play hard on defense.”