SAN PERLITA — Andrea Cantu led all scorers with 17 points and sparked her team’s rally to capture the San Perlita Tournament championship for Premont in a 45-37 victory over San Isidro on Saturday night.
Cantu, a freshman, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
“Her adapting to this type of environment has been huge for us,” Premont coach Christopher Reese said. “The first couple games before this tournament were about her understanding her role. Now she just gives us that extra push, and helps take that pressure off of our bigs.”
Premont led 14-11 after the first quarter and led 19-13 at the 6-minute mark of the second quarter after Cantu buried a 3-pointer.
Spearheaded by Mia Alvarado (16 points), San Isidro countered by attacking the Cowgirls in transition to tie the game at 19 with 4:19 to go in the second quarter.
San Isidro took its first lead of the game, 24-21, with 2:50 to play in the second quarter.
A transition layup by Alvarado with 30 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Lady Tigers a 26-21 advantage, which they carried with them into the locker room at halftime.
“We overcame some things,” Reese said. “We were scrappy, we never gave up and kept fighting. I’m very proud of their effort.”
Reese made an adjustment to his team’s defensive scheme that worked to turn the game in his team’s favor during the second half.
“For most of the game we ran a zone,” Reese said. I told the girls, ‘Wait for it, wait for it, we’re going to pick them up in man. They haven’t seen it.’ … The girls are very conditioned, so they were able to make that transition to playing a full-court deny (defense), and that helped us.”
Madison Ponce (six points) scored the first basket of the second half with a leaping hook shot that gave the Lady Tigers an eight-point lead. Premont worked to trim the deficit to three, as San Isidro led 30-27 at the end of the third quarter.
A steal and layup by Cantu brought Premont back within one point, and she scored the go-ahead bucket after another turnover on the inbounds pass to put the Cowgirls up 31-30.
Cantu scored her team’s third consecutive basket on a 10-foot floater with less than six minutes go. After Alvarado missed a layup at the other end, Jenna Menchaca got the rebound and split a pair of free throws for Premont to give the Cowgirls a four-point cushion.
“(Cantu) was huge for us today,” Reese said. “Without that effort, San Isidro would have beaten us today.”
Following another stop, Menchaca swished a jumper from the right block that made the score 36-30 Premont.
With her team leading 39-32 with two minutes to go in the fourth quarter, the Cowgirls’ Amber Garcia was fouled while shooting a 3-pointer and made one of three free throws.
Miryna Villareal got the rebound on Garcia’s last miss and drew a foul while putting up a shot. She drained both of her attempts from the charity stripe to give Premont a 42-34 lead and put the game on ice.
Alvarado banked in a late 3 for San Isidro to draw the Lady Tigers within five points, but Menchaca answered with a layup and the Cowgirls tacked on another point with a free throw to seal the win.