SHINGLE SPRINGS — Once the ball started moving, the turnovers abated and Ashley Beck and Brooke Sinner made their shots, the Ponderosa girls basketball team was OK. Before that — all of the first quarter — well, that’s what give a coach gray hairs.
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As the Lady Bruins got it right, the team took control in Tuesday’s 42-27 intra-county nonleague win over visiting El Dorado. Ponderosa improved to 4-2 while the Cougars remained winless.
Scorekeepers worked overtime to track first-quarter turnovers as both teams obliged. El Dorado led 7-4 after the first eight minutes.
“That quarter was painfully slow for us, we were out-of-sync, and we seem to play that way every time we play El Dorado,” Bruin coach Noel O’Donnell said. “We got going but is was a frustrating pace — what we like to do to other teams except it was happening to us.”
O’Donnell’s court make-up of Morgan Martinenko, Stacey Godwin, Danielle Craft, Sophia George and Lauren Williams outscored the Cougars 15-3 in the second quarter as Ponderosa grabbed a 19-10 lead at the break.
“We were trying to find the right combination and that group was working well,” O’Donnell said.
O’Donnell’s squad was paying its fifth game in six days and coming off a solid win the night before over Cosumnes Oaks. Ironically, O’Donnell said the team’s best two games were its two losses.
Ponderosa returns five players and the group is led by seniors Beck, Sinner, Martinenko and Godwin. The rest — three juniors, two sophomores and two juniors — have blended well according to O’Donnell. Transfer Tiffany Nesterenko will be a plus once she’s eligible to play.
The team’s focus will be rebounding and defense and the Bruins’ main goal is to make the playoffs despite Ponderosa’s presence in the tough Delta River League.
Tuesday, the Bruins saw their halftime lead dwindle when the Cougars opened the third quarter with Sabrina Tate’s drive for two, Shelby Ganzert’s corner three-pointer and Kylie Haverson’s putback. Ponderosa answered behind the hustle play of Jessica Tempelton, free throws from George, Sinner’s jumper in the lane and Beck’s wing three.
Beck (13 points) and Sinner (10) each scored seven points in the final quarter as the Bruins pulled away.
Tate led El Dorado with six points and Haverson scored five. Tate, Zuber and Ganzert are the sole returning players for coach Pat Winter on a team hit with graduation.
“We’re very young and learning to play at this level. When you do that it’s baby steps all the way,” Winter said. “Tonight we were much better than our previous games. We played hard but the offense just isn’t there yet. It’s a slow, learning process.”