EL DORADO — El Dorado’s smothering full-court press was the difference Tuesday as the Lady Cougars upended host Union Mine 40-25 in Sierra Valley Conference action. El Dorado forced 22 Union Mine turnovers, 12 in the second half when it pulled away. “We like to press,” El Dorado head coach Pat Winter said. “Our philosophy is to wear people down. We’re looking to wear down teams toward the end of games.” The Cougars couldn’t connect from the field. Their combination of turnovers and missed shots allowed Union Mine to cling to a 15-14 halftime lead, thanks to Yvonne Taylor’s three-pointer with 21 seconds left and Kinsey Del Rio’s coast-to-coast basket at the buzzer.
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“We were still confident on what we were doing at that point,” D’back coach Chris Del Rio said. “We were having some success with our press and defense. I think, mentally, we were ready for the first half.”
El Dorado took the lead for good toward the end of the third on a basket from Katryna Holifield-Helm and two free throws from Jessica Jemmott.
“They got us with their pressure and we folded,” Del Rio said.
Winter added, “(In the fourth quarter) we wanted to keep our pressure on and get some separation. We finally got that separation. The kids played hard.”
In the third, the Cougars and D’backs played evenly. El Dorado took a 17-15 lead on a quick opening basket from Jemmott but Union Mine tied the game at 17-all when Kinsey hit another basket.
Union Mine (1-4, 6-11) went up 20-18 toward the end of the third quarter on a trey from guard Savannah Scott before Holifield-Helm and Jemmott made their shots to give the Cougars the lead for good.
The win gives El Dorado (3-2, 8-10) an inside track in pursuit of a Sac-Joaquin Section playoff berth next month.
“At this point we’re taking it one game at a time,” Winter said. “Our goal is to get there (playoffs), but just to play well every game.”
The Cougars’ Hannah Dixon led in scoring with 13 points, followed by Jemmott with 10. Faith Wilson finished with eight points, Kylie Haverson four, Rebecca McCaughey three and Kayla Cotten two.
Taylor and Jordyn Trulli had five points each for the D’backs. Kinsey Del Rio followed with four points, Courtney Bruno, Scott and Trisha Tolbert scored three points each, and Katie Vick and Katie Parker had one each.
Contact Mike Bush at 530-344-5079 or [email protected] Follow @MBushMtDemo on Twitter.