By Robert Balajadia
The Southern Dolphins avenged their only loss of the IIAAG girls basketball season against the undefeated Academy Cougars with a big 54-40 win at the Southern gym Saturday night.
The Dolphins had a double-digit lead heading into the fourth quarter when the two teams met earlier in the season, but they allowed the Cougars to comeback and tie the game to send it into overtime where the Cougars grabbed the win.
This time, the Dolphins held on to their double-digit lead for an entire half.
The Dolphins held a 31-19 halftime lead and never looked back. The stifling defense of the Dolphins forced the Cougars into some costly and uncharacteristic turnovers, led by the blazing quick point guard April “Speedy” Talledo, who finished with 16 points.
Talledo helped force a lot of the turnovers on the defensive end and help slow the game down by attacking the basket and scoring from the free-throw line.
“We got ready by focusing more on the game and by not letting anything else get to us. Coach tells me to trust me teammates, play my game and play my best,” said Talledo.
Another big factor was the height of Dolphins’ Mar Tenorio and Brielle Meno, which allowed the Dolphins third, fourth, and sometimes fifth extra opportunities to score by cleaning up the offense glass.
Tenorio finished with 16 points while Meno added 12.
The Cougars tried to rally back in dramatic fashion by scoring six straight points from Alina “ICE” Bonto and Kali Benavente to cut the lead 49-38 with three minutes left in the game, but the Dolphins forced Academy into more turnovers and slowed the game down to hold on for the win.
“We wanted to control the tempo and it worked to our advantage by getting our big girls involved. We only had about a day and a half of practice due to the Thanksgiving break and I told the girls we needed to prepare the entire Academy team and not just certain players,” said head coach
Southern led by just two points after the first quarter before Talledo and Tenorio would take over in the second quarter where the two combined for 12 of the teams 16 points.
“We wanted to defend our home court like they defended our home court,” added Talledo.
With the win the Dolphins are now 9-1 on the season while the Cougars drop to 10-1. The season is winding down and Sanchez knows this win was big for his girls heading into the playoffs.
“It gives us momentum heading into the final games and playoffs knowing where we are at having played all the other teams. Once the playoffs start, everyone has to come with their ‘A-game.’ I just hope that when we do peak that it’s in the playoffs.”
Bonto led the Cougars in scoring with 15 points while Benavente added 12.
GW 54, Guam High 40
St. Paul 79, Sanchez 39 – Joy Pangilinan 30 points
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