Soledad on brink of title

SOLEDAD — A win tonight at Gonzales could assure the Soledad Lady Aztecs a share of the Mission Trail Athletic League Championship, while a victory over Santa Catalina at home on Friday would mean an undisputed title for Soledad.

The Lady Aztecs improved to 11-1 and 15-5 overall with victories last week over Robert Louis Stevenson and Pacific Grove.

On Feb. 6 Soledad hosted the Robert Louis Stevenson Pirates and defeated the defending champions 51-41 behind the scoring and rebounding of Jacky Saldana and Theresa Chavez.

Saldana scored 19 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. The senior guard filled her stat sheet with three steals, two blocked shots, and five assists. Chavez added 12 points, five steals, four blocked shots, and two assists.

Xenia Suarez played a complete game with eight points, two steals, one blocked shot and four assists. Denise Virgen contributed with six points, three steals, one blocked shot and two assists. Soledad center Daisy Bugarin scored four points, with 12 rebounds, three steals, five blocked shots and one assist. Emily Tinajero added two points.

The Lady Aztecs held Tri-County scoring leader Ambreece Gaskins to 15 points and the sharpshooter had three 3-point baskets in the first quarter and just one 3-point basket in the second half when Soledad built a double-digit lead.

“Going into one of our most important weeks of the season our whole team was locked in and knew we had to continue to be the best team on both ends of the court,” said Soledad head coach Tatiana Rodriguez. “We used our athleticism and speed in both games to get easy transition baskets and dictate the defensive tempo.”

Last Thursday against visiting Pacific Grove the Lady Aztecs had to rely on mental toughness at the Breakers got to within two points in the final minutes. Soledad pulled out the 46-40 win with key free-throws by Suarez and Emily Tinajero. Suarez finished the game with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Tinajero contributed with a huge 3-point basket and the timely free-throws.

Daisy Bugurin led Soledad with 13 points and 12 rebounds and Theresa Chavez scored nine points. Also scoring points for Soledad were: Saldana with six points and Virgen with two points.

Kulaea Tulua of Pacific Grove led all scorers with 20 points and added eight rebounds and teammate Danielle Pasquariello had 11 rebounds before fouling out of the game.

“Each quarter of both games was a battle and we stayed focused on our game,” said Coach Rodriguez. “We executed and came out on top, continuing our eight-game winning streak and defending our home court to hold onto first place in league.”

According to senior guard Xenia Suarez winning league is very important to the Lady Aztec basketball team. Suarez has averaged 12.6 points this season.

“We are all so excited to be close to winning a championship,” said Suarez. “Everyone has contributed and worked to get to where we are. A couple ago I was not playing much on the middle school basketball team and now with hard work I am a part of a great team.”

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