After the week’s second close defeat — a 36-29 setback Thursday, Feb. 3, to fourth-place Livingston — the third-place Tigers (4-3 WAC) had just three games remaining against league opponents.
“I’m not exactly sure where we stand (in terms of playoff positioning), but we are still right there,” Patterson coach Elizabeth Reza said. “I’m pretty sure we have to win the rest of our games to be considered playoff contenders.”
Cold shooting hurt the Tigers against the visiting Wolves, and an eight-point halftime deficit was too steep to overcome.
Stephanie Cantu, Dayna Hansen and Marisabel Carrillo led Patterson with seven points apiece.
“Offensively, we’ve always struggled a bit,” Reza said. “Livingston knew that and capitalized on our weaknesses. They were very physical, and we didn’t respond well to it.
“We kept playing, but we just couldn’t get the ball in the basket.”
The final seconds of their Feb. 1 match with Central Valley High of Ceres provided ample time for the Tigers to grasp what was lost.
The Tigers squandered a four-point lead during the fourth quarter in a 40-36 loss that pushed the Hawks’ lead to two games in the WAC.
“We’re still very optimistic,” Reza said after the loss to Central Valley. “This league is wide open, and it’s really about which teams show up ready to play that will decide who ends up winning it all.”
For three quarters, the Tigers showed the first-place Hawks (6-1 WAC) — and their colorful student section — why they are defending co-champions.
Patterson neutralized Central Valley’s height with crisp passing, dogged hustle and sharp shooting, only to completely unravel in the fourth quarter. The Tigers managed only five points and were just 1-of-7 from the free-throw line in the final frame.
Cantu scored nine points to lead Patterson. Hansen added eight points and grabbed 14 rebounds, while Carrillo and Sierra Santos chipped in eight and seven points, respectively, to help the Tigers keep pace.
Neither team gained much of an advantage in the first half, which featured five ties and seven lead changes.
An Eva Noorzai free throw with 57 seconds left in the second quarter gave Central Valley a 21-20 halftime lead.
The Tigers outscored the Hawks 11-8 in the third quarter, using a late bucket by Jovannah Arrington to take a 31-29 lead into the final frame.
Patterson upped its advantage to 33-29 to open the fourth quarter, neutralizing Central Valley’s centers Brittany Martinez and Geena Wade as the Tiger defense continued to battle it out down low.
The difference in the close game was Patterson’s inability to generate offense as the game clock ticked away, Cantu said.
“Our shots weren’t falling, and we didn’t follow through,” Cantu said.
Central Valley eventually outscored the Tigers 11-5 in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.
As the team enters the final grind of conference play, Reza said, “We just need to take care of our business.”
After an inspiring performance against Central Catholic High the previous week, the JV Tigers took a step back, losing to visiting Central Valley 45-16.
The Tigers, who dropped a narrow decision to the Raiders on Jan. 25, were held to one of their lowest scoring outputs of the season.
Patterson’s Mele Tupouata tallied 10 rebounds and scored seven points. Teammate Sarah Sanchez added four points, while Shalini Bakshi had eight rebounds.
Patterson’s Monique Garcia scored seven points and added 11 rebounds, but it was not enough in a 32-16 loss to Central Valley.
Monique Coleman tallied four points and nine rebounds for the Tigers, while teammate Sarah Okitukunda grabbed 13 boards.