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ND ROYALS BACK ON WINNING TRACK

The ND Royals got a big 33-point night from Destiny Castro and they needed every bit of it after narrowly defeating the home team GW Geckos 65-63.

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By Mike Nauta Jr.

A day after suffering their first defeat in the IIAAG High School Girls Basketball League, the ND Royals looked to return back to their winning ways on Tuesday night as they went up against the George Washington Lady Geckos.

From beginning to end, both teams kept the game exciting as a single possession was the difference maker in the final outcome. With the scoreboard a 65-63 score at the final buzzer, it was the visiting Royals who walked away with the victory.

“We just came off a very tough loss and that helped us to realize that there are still things we need to improve on as a team,” said Notre Dame’s Destiny Castro. “So, tonight we just went right back to work and made things happen for ourselves. It wasn’t an easy task against a very resilient Geckos team as they fought to the end.”

The Royal’s Castro led all scorers dropping a game-high 33 points to go along with two blocks and six steals. GW was led by Colleen Quinata’s 14 points, while teammate Bila Aguon contributed 12 points, four steals, and three assists.

The Geckos struck first in the opening period as Bila Aguon’s three points gave her team an early lead. Notre Dame responded quickly with seven unanswered points led by the trio of Brianne Leon Guerrero, Janel Borja and Kylanie Ogo.

After returning from a timeout later in the first, the Geckos pulled within one (7-6) after a baseline jumper by Joanie Gogue. With less than a minute left in the quarter, the Royals’ Castro started to heat up as she closed out with five of her game-high 33 points to give Notre Dame a 12-8 lead.

Things shifted a bit in the second quarter as sisters Bila and Ana Aguon drained back-to-back buckets to equalized the game. Despite giving up several points to the Royals, GW held ground as they managed to find the bottom of the net throughout the second period. The Geckos outscored the Royals in quarter that eventually led to them taking a slim 25-24 lead going into halftime.

“GW is a very scrappy team that possesses a lot of game speed,” said ND Head Coach Dominic Sablan. “They hustled on every play and they just kept putting up a fight and never gave up.”

Wendy's Player of the Game, Destiny Castro of the Notre Dame Royals.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Wendy’s Player of the Game, Destiny Castro of the Notre Dame Royals. (photo by Daniel Paran)

A basket two minutes into the third quarter by Colleen Quinata gave the Geckos a 31-30 lead. However, Castro lit things up scoring ten of her team’s 14 points to give Notre Dame a commanding 44-31 lead. Each time things looked to be spiraling downhill for the Geckos a spark would be ignited. Buckets by Mikaela Castro and Johnia Siguenza made it a 51-43 game after three.

It was do or die for both teams with the last eight minutes of the game ticking away. The Geckos narrowed the gap to 55-49 led by Bila Aguon’s five points.

However, much like earlier in the game, Castro and Leon Guerrero find their groove from beyond the arc and helped the Royals rebuild a 65-52 lead. With less than a minute and a half left in the game, GW put forth their best efforts. Quinata, Siguenza, and Mikaela Castro combined for 11 points to make it a 65-63 game. Notre Dame held possession in the final nine seconds of the game to preserve their two-point win over the host team.

“Overall our team performance was acceptable,” said Sablan. “We still have things to work on as the rest of the season progresses. We just have to be ready to play our type of team basketball.”

PHOTO GALLERY BROUGHT TO YOU BY:

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Ana Aguon manages to shake off a couple of the Royals, leaving her open to approach the hoop.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ana Aguon manages to shake off a couple of the Royals, leaving her open to approach the hoop. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Bila Aguon keeps Janelle Borja of the Royals in check from making a play.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Bila Aguon keeps Janelle Borja of the Royals in check from making a play. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Sonnia Siguenza takes a deep breath before sinking a free throw for the Geckos.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Sonnia Siguenza takes a deep breath before sinking a free throw for the Geckos. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Tatiana Afaisen reaches for the rebound before the Geckos could react.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Tatiana Afaisen reaches for the rebound before the Geckos could react. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Destiny Castro puts up a shot from the inside for two.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Destiny Castro puts up a shot from the inside for two. (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ky'lanie Ogo and Sonnia Siguenza take to the air for the opening tip off.  (photo by Daniel Paran)

Ky’lanie Ogo and Sonnia Siguenza take to the air for the opening tip off. (photo by Daniel Paran)

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