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COUGARS IMPROVE TO 4-0 OVER PANTHERS

The Academy Cougars held off a tough Guam High Panthers squad to remain undefeated (4-0) in the Gadao Division in the IIAAG Girls Basketball league Tuesday night. The Cougars marched up the Agana Heights hill and got the road win 37-28.

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By Jay Leon Guerrero

The Academy Cougars held off a tough Guam High Panthers squad to remain undefeated (4-0) in the Gadao Division in the IIAAG Girls Basketball league Tuesday night. The Cougars marched up the Agana Heights hill and got the road win 37-28.

The battle was the first of many featuring the leagues premier centers who are both underclassmen. Academy’s freshman sensation Mia San Nicolas battled in the paint against her friend Britney Bailey, a sophomore, from Guam High.

Bailey played the entire game and posted a crazy stat line of 9 points, 27 rebounds and 7 blocks. San Nicolas played 25 minutes and had 13 points, 9 rebounds, 7 blocked shots and 2 steals. Both centers owned the paint in the defensive battle between the teams.

Kiersten Pangelinan led the Cougars with 19 points, making 3-of-5 shots from downtown. Pangelinan made the big plays when Academy coach Eddie Pelkey needed it the most.

Trailing early in the first quarter, Pangelinan scored five straight points to give the Cougars their first lead of the game. In the third quarter, Guam High’s Harmony Yatar hit a long jumper and Bailey scored on a put back to cut their deficit to eight points (19-11).

Pangelinan answered with a three-pointer and dished out an assist to set up San Nicolas for a wide open lay-in to push the lead back to double digits.

Guam High made a final push at a comeback in the final period trimming the lead to 30-22 after Alexia Brown and Dawn San Luis each hit short jumpers. But just as she did in the first half, Pangelinan nailed a clutch 3-pointer to end all hopes of a comeback.

“Britney is really intimidating, I’m happy my teammates pulled through tonight. When we have leads like that, we just cannot get nervous and learn to close out games,” said Pangelinan.

“We know each other and we are are friends,” said San Nicolas about guarding Bailey. “She is fast, moves her feet well and did a great job in rebounding tonight.”

San Nicolas was more efficient on offense making 6-10 field goals to go with 2 assists.

Wendy's Players of the Game, Mia San Nicolas (left) and Kiersten Pangelinan (right) of the Academy Cougars.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Players of the Game, Mia San Nicolas (left) and Kiersten Pangelinan (right) of the Academy Cougars. (photo by Daniel Paran)

“I enjoy playing with and against Mia because she really makes me work harder,” said Bailey. The Panthers fall to 1-4 for the season but are looking to improve as the season goes into the second half. “Our basketball team, like every other sport team, can always improve with better communication. We need to practice our plays and get better at defense,” said Bailey.

Yatar had the game’s only double-double contributing 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Panthers.

Kali set to return

The Cougars were able to win early in the season without All-Island point guard and Guam National team player Kali Benavente who is still recovering from an injury. She is scheduled to be out a few more days before working her way back into the offense.

“This is actually a good thing playing some games without Kali because we are learning not to depend on her all the time. It’s giving us more confidence; when she returns everyone will know their true potential. We will still be much appreciative of her when she returns, but the team know they play well,” said Pangelinan.

In the junior varsity game, the Cougars (3-1) easily defeated the Panthers 52-6. Mika Dela Cruz and Therese Fegurgur each scored 11 points for the Cougars, Saphira Abramson scored 4 points for the Panthers.

STANDINGS

Taga Division
Okkodo 2-0
St. Paul 2-0
Tiyan 1-2
JFK 1-1
Sanchez 0-3

Gadao Division
ND 4-0
Academy 4-0
Southern 1-2
GW 1-2
Guam High 1-4
Harvest 0-3

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Alexia Brown dribbles the ball from one side to the other as Aubi P tries to keep up.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Alexia Brown dribbles the ball from one side to the other as Aubi P tries to keep up. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Harmony Yatar readies to take a shot from the outside for three.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Harmony Yatar readies to take a shot from the outside for three. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Britany Bailey of the Panthers attempts to steal the ball away from Camy Hattori.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Britany Bailey of the Panthers attempts to steal the ball away from Camy Hattori. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Aunne Esplana shoots a pass to an open teammate.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Aunne Esplana shoots a pass to an open teammate. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mia San Nicolas pauses for a moment to decide her course of action.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Mia San Nicolas pauses for a moment to decide her course of action. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kiersten Pangelinan catches Harmony Yatar off-guard and drives the ball to the hoop for two.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Kiersten Pangelinan catches Harmony Yatar off-guard and drives the ball to the hoop for two. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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