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Falcon girls show growth in defeat

Falcon girls show growth in defeat Falcon girls show growth in defeat

The Abbotsford Falcons girls basketball team (1-1; 1-0 MNC) had their first big test of the young season, hosting the newly minted Auburndale Eagles in a showdown between the North and South Marawood conferences on Friday night.

The Eagles (3-0; 2-0 MSC) dominated the game last year, holding the Falcons to under 20 points, but as the old saying goes, what a difference a year makes. While the Falcons did not notch the upset, they proved that in just two games, this is not the same team from last year.

“You can definitely see the improvements our team has made since even the end of last year,” Falcons head coach Ally Meserole noted. “We’re much more aggressive, we have a lot of speed, which we did not quite have last year, and we have 10-11 girls that are all confident on the court, and all can hold their own.”

What hurt the Falcons was the Eagles’ height, with Auburndale boasting six players 5’8” or taller. The Falcons’ zone defense kept the Eagles out of the paint for much of the night, but the Eagles were able to use their height advantage to shoot over Abby from mid-range.

“The height was a huge disadvantage for us. We weren’t able to get the rebounds we needed, even if we boxed out and they were able to take it right from us. They were able to shoot right over us. There’s not much we can do about that.”

The Eagles jumped out to an early 8-0 lead after a shaky start from the Falcons, but as the first half progressed, Abby grew more comfortable, and in spite of giving up inches to Auburndale, Abby did not back down from the challenge.

The Falcons went right at the Eagles, using their speed and quickness to force turnovers. Mya Ruesch, Sydney Falteisek and Brissa Diaz went right at the taller Eagles, drawing fouls, to get to the charity stripe 26 times as a team.

Free throws from Ruesch, Falteisek and Diaz, along with threes from Marisol Garcia, Adriana Fuentes and Diaz chipped away at the deficit, and with under nine minutes to go in the first half, the Falcons whittled the lead to 18-10, prompting a time out from the Eagles.

“Our team’s speed and on-the-ball defense was phenomenal in a lot of moments tonight,” Meserole said about her team’s comeback. “We were able to put some pressure on Auburndale, get them to cause their own turnovers, and get back to within single digits.”

After the time out Auburndale began to work the ball inside and drew fouls. Before long, Alea Graff, Falteisek and Ruesch were on the bench with foul trouble. The Eagles rattled off a 27-12 run to close out the first half to go into the break up 47-22.

The Eagles kept that form in the second half adding 20 points in the first nine minutes, and their lead swelled to 64-28.

Catie Clement canned a triple and got to the line to lead Abby in the second frame. Ruesch and Briseida Escalera scored but the Eagles’ firepower proved too much as Abby fell 79-35.

Ruesch and Clement led the Falcons with seven points apiece, with Ruesch pulling down a team high five rebounds. Escalera turned in another strong game, scoring six points, and leading Abby with a team high five steals.

Brissa Diaz and Sydney Falteisek each finished with four points. Marisol Garcia and Adriana Fuentes both had three points. Alea Graff added one point.

The 35 points is almost triple the amount scored in last year’s meeting, and Meserole was encouraged by the on court production.

“The girls are starting to get a little bit more basketball IQ and understand what they need to do. We had girls that were willing to drive, shoot and fight for the ball. You love to see that as a coach.”