By Nate San Nicolas
As the IIAAG Girl’s High School Basketball playoffs get underway, the Okkodo Bulldogs advance to the semifinals after beating the Guam High Panthers 51-31 in their Friday night game.
From the ensuing tip it was the Bulldogs dominating on the offensive end as Chyna Ramirez and Brianna Delgado nailed one three-pointer each, sparking their team to go on a 16-3 run. The Panthers were unable to find a rhythm themselves, as they missed numerous second chance opportunities. The Bulldogs gained a comfortable 19-5 lead heading into the second quarter.
Noticing their height advantage over the Bulldogs, the Panthers weren’t going to let them go that easily. They began to step up defensively, playing a full-court press and forcing the Bulldogs to turn the ball over, which resulted in easy points.
“We honestly just had to box them out, go for those loose balls, play defense, know who our man is on the court,” said Bulldogs’ Felicia Borja when asked how her team reacted to the taller Panthers team. “We can’t get lost. We moved the ball around on offense and continued to look for the open spot.”
Alison Bowman kicked off the Panthers run with a basket and an assist. However, the Second Team All-Island center faced foul trouble, forcing her to sit on the bench. But despite losing a key player, the Panthers were still able to go on an 8-0 run. Breaking the run was Bulldogs own Ramirez who flashed her shooting skills once again as she sank back-to-back three-pointers before ending the first half, putting her team up 29-16.
The second half started out yet again with a tight Panthers defense and Bowman making her presence known on the court. Bowman led her team in the third quarter with two steals and converting eight straight points on the offensive end. Using her height to her advantage, she also managed to serve as a force on the boards recording six rebounds total on both ends of the court. But Second Team All-Island forward, Bulldogs’ Borja, countered Bowman’s performance by recording three steals and scoring the Bulldogs’ first six points of the quarter.
Heading into the fourth quarter, Borja and Bowman traded points, but it was the Bulldogs who managed to extend the lead as Delgado showed her versatility by sinking a three and laying in a drive to the basket. After that, the clock was running down and the lead seemed too far for the Panthers to catch up.
Borja led all scorers with 18 points and had 6 steals, followed by Bowman who recorded 16 points along with 4 steals, and 8 rebounds.
With the win, the Bulldogs advance to the semifinals to play the Academy Cougars who defeated the JFK Islanders. The Cougars were the victors when the two teams met up in the season, but the Bulldogs don’t seem to be intimidated about their Tuesday rematch.
“We want to be the best, and we have to prove that,” said Okkodo head coach Mar DeGuzman, “they (Academy) are the defending champs, and we have to beat the best in order to be the best.”
In other games:
– The Southern Dolphins beat the St. Paul Warriors 66-57. The Dolphins advance to the semifinals to play the winner of the GW/St. John’s game Saturday. Warriors Joy Pangilinan led all scorers with 26 points in the losing effort, and sophomore standout April Talledo scored 24 points for the Dolphins followed by teammate Brielle Meno who contributed with 23 points.
– The defending champion Academy Cougars move on to the semis as well, beating the JFK Islanders 49-36. It will be the Bulldogs and Cougars in one match up Tuesday night at the Phoenix Center.
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