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COUGARS BACK IN FINALS

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By Nate San Nicolas

Cougars’ Alina Bonto scores the easy layup. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

“We’re not done yet.”

Those were the words that Academy’s basketball coach Eddie Pelkey had to say as his AOLG Cougars who advance to the Finals this Saturday to defend their title against the St. John’s Knights.

Despite a 16-point lead in the third quarter being cut down to seven, the Cougars were able to pull away with a win as they defeated the Okkodo Bulldogs 54-45 in their semifinals game Tuesday night at the FD Phoenix Center.

“We had a very bad lapse of composure that fourth quarter,” said coach Pelkey as he commented on his team’s performance in the last quarter. “We weren’t executing the way we were supposed to. So all we had to do was refocus our girls, make them aware of what we were trying to make them do offensively, make them aware of what we want them to do defensively, and to buckle down, make sure we get some stops.”

McDonald’s defensive player of the game: Cougars’ Kara Duenas. 15 rebounds, 14 points, 6 steals

The Cougars started off strong in of the second quarter as league MVP Kara Duenas sparked the Academy offense as she scored a basket utilizing her fancy post moves. Then, teammate Gemilie Ilao decided to contribute to the scoring spree as she converted a Duenas steal into an easy lay-up.

McDonald’s offensive player of the game: Cougars’ Alina Bonto. 22 points

Complementing the offensive run was the Cougars defense which stepped up a notch as the girls began playing full-court man-to-man, double teaming the Bulldogs at half court and forcing turnovers that resulted to easy points.

But the Bulldogs weren’t going to let them go off that easily. Being down by 16 points in the third quarter, Okkodo kicked it into high gear as sophomore Felicia Borja and senior Brianna Delgado scored six points each in the second half closing the gap to seven late in the fourth. The Cougars were unable to find a rhythm to the basket, making only one shot in the first six minutes of the last quarter.

Bulldogs’ Felicia Borja attempts the jumper of the defense of Cougars’ Alina Bonto. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

After a timeout called by the Cougars, it was  senior Rebecca Rupley who sealed the deal for a ticket to the championship as she cut through the Bulldogs defense not once, but twice to complete her nifty lay-ups, finishing the game off 54-45.

Being the underdogs last year on their championship run, the Cougars were able to sneak up out of nowhere to claim the title. But the road to the trophy is much more difficult this year for they have been under the radar as defending champs making them the team to beat throughout the season.

“Never be satisfied, don’t be satisfied just to be here” said coach Pelkey, “that’s what we’re teaching our girls. We’re playing a different role from last year not being the underdogs, and this year we’re not. Everyone kind of knows who we are. But the most difficult thing is just for them to understand that they can’t be satisfied with where we’re at right now.”

The Cougars are a determined and well-focused team, but they must not be complacent if they want to bring home that trophy once more on Saturday.

 

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

http://www.akguam.com/ou/tamuning-scion/

Bulldogs’ Felicia Borja gets a hand on the ball to prevent the layup of Cougars’ Kara Duenas. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Bulldogs’ Brianna Delgado drives the baseline against the defense of Cougars’ Rebecca Rupley. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Bulldogs’ Juls Taitano scores the put-back off her own miss. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Rebecca Rupley drives past the defense of Bulldogs’ Felicia Borja. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Kara Duenas comes from behind to tip the ball away from a rebounding Martha Augustine of the Bulldogs. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Louise Baza attempts the close range shot. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Rebecca Rupley scores the runner late in the fourth quarter. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Jasie Villanueva attempts the put-back over the contesting hands of Bulldogs’ Anisha Nedlic. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

Cougars’ Kara Duenas looks to score off her signature pull-away post shot. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

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