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COUGARS CLOSE STRONG AGAINST DOLPHINS

The Academy Cougars girls basketball team extended their win streak a game further after taking down the visiting Southern Dolphins 69-46 at home to go (11-0) on the season. The streaking Cougars had to fend off a valiant Dolphin effort, using a 19-5 4th quarter to lock down the win.

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By Robert Balajadia

The Academy Cougars girls basketball team extended their win streak a game further after taking down the visiting Southern Dolphins 69-46 at home to go (11-0) on the season. The streaking Cougars had to fend off a valiant Dolphin effort, using a 19-5 4th quarter to lock down the win.

“Our strength all season has been rebounding the ball. When we rebound successfully, we can get the ball to Kali. When we get the ball to Kali and have defenders back pedalling, that’s an advantage for us. We couldn’t do that tonight because we didn’t rebound. They took that away from us so we had to find another way to win,” said Pelkey on his teams game struggles.

Kali ‘Special K’ Benavente was all over the stat sheet collecting 10 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2 blocks. Cougars Kiersten Pangelinan led all scorers with 18 while Southern’s Marlissa Tenorio had a team-high 13 points.

Benavente is finally playing healthy after missing the first two weeks of the season, but her early season absence might have been just what the Cougars needed as a team.

“They gained a lot of confidence playing to start the season and I’m gelling well with them now. The confidence they gained has helped out a lot,” said Benavente.

Southern took charge in the second half cutting the Cougars 42-25 lead to just 10, 42-32, after an and-one bucket from Tenorio off an offensive rebound. Academy struggled to rebound which allowed the Dolphins to capitalize on the offensive glass with 10 offensive rebounds.

The Cougars answered back with center Mia San Nicolas getting four of her points on second chance opportunities to give Academy a 50-35 lead. Missed layups by the Cougars and two three point makes by the Dolphins set up a 50-41 4th quarter score.

After a sluggish start to the final period, Pelkey called a timeout just one minute in. Although, instead of getting on his girls, Pelkey gave the floor to Benavente to the team’s wheels churning.

“I didn’t say anything, I let [Kali] do all the talking. She was telling the girls to quit shooting jump shots and to take the ball to the basket,” said Pelkey.

Wendy's Player of the Game, Kali Benavente, team captain of the Academy Cougars.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Player of the Game, Kali Benavente, team captain of the Academy Cougars. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Pangelinan quickly went to work on her rim attack, scoring two baskets in the teeth of the Dolphin defense which garnered on-court appraisal from Benavente.

“We told each other that we were going to be each others inner coach and that we were going to pick each other up when one of us is struggling. I was just telling her to shake off her earlier mistakes and that we needed her,” said Benvavente on her conversation with Pangelinan.

Benavente then dished out three dimes to San Nicolas, Pangelinan, and Cam Hatorri to give her the double-double, but more importantly a commanding 61-42 lead. With the game in hand, Pelkey pulled Benavente in the final two minutes, who got an ovation from the home crowd.

The Dolphins’ deep ball was working well with 21 points (7 makes) coming off the long distance shots. Academy forced the Dolphins into taking difficult shots down the stretch while getting into their transition offense after every missed shot.

“That’s a good team we faced tonight. Everyone is putting us on a pedestal a little too quickly, but we’ve been taking the best shots from everybody and it’s hard to maintain that level of consistency through out the season. We just had to eliminate a lot of the mistakes we made earlier in the game,” said Pelkey.

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Nadine Calceta sinks a three to close the score gap in the first half of the game.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Nadine Calceta sinks a three to close the score gap in the first half of the game. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kimberly Malalis challenges Cougars' Kiersten Pangelinan as she forces her way to the hoop.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kimberly Malalis challenges Cougars’ Kiersten Pangelinan as she forces her way to the hoop. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Marlisah Tenorio takes a shot over the Cougars for two.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Marlisah Tenorio takes a shot over the Cougars for two. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mia San Nicolas slips between a couple of the Dolphins to put up a shot.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mia San Nicolas slips between a couple of the Dolphins to put up a shot. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kiersten Pangelinan left wide open as she sinks a shot from the arc.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kiersten Pangelinan left wide open as she sinks a shot from the arc. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Meaghan Cruz using her height advantage to force Dolphins' Kimberly Malalis to pass.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Meaghan Cruz using her height advantage to force Dolphins’ Kimberly Malalis to pass. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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