By Chad Robert Snyder
Pilot staff writer
The Azalea Bruin basketball girls stayed with the recent trend of winning ballgames Monday night at home.
The seventh graders narrowly defeated Crescent Elk 43-40. The eighth-grade Bruins had a considerably easier time versus their Elk opponent, cruising to victory 59-43.
According to seventh-grade Head Coach Kristy Kleespies, her team had a comfortable lead for much of the game, only to watch it erode in the second half.
"We were up 12 to 15 points going into the fourth quarter, but then Crescent put on the press," she said. "We didn't respond well because we're so aggressive."
Kleespies pointed out that Crescent is allowed to play press coverage all game, unlike the Bruins, who are only allowed to employ it in the fourth quarter because of a league rule.
Crescent's press attack got them back into the game late, but their fourth quarter run wasn't enough and the Bruins squeaked out a three point win.
Karlie Gozales had an amazing game, according to Kleespies. She scored 14 points and collected eight rebounds. Kleespies said she also contributed in other vital statistical categories.
"With 13 steals, she was all over the court," she said. "She also had three blocked shots."
"That was the best overall game I've ever seen her play," she said.
Bethanee Bottoms also made a significant impact on the game by scoring 14 points as well.
The eight-grade Bruins didn't have to withstand a late surge by the Elks, but that didn't stop Head Coach Lori Copper from saying he was very impressed with her team.
"They're getting better every game," she said. "They could have won by 40 points if I didn't take the press off."
Cooper did so in the third quarter. Although the Elks did manage to outscore the Bruins 11-9 in the fourth period, there was no point when Cooper thought the game in question.
"The third quarter seemed to be where the Bruins took control and never looked back," she said. "As in the past two games, the team pressured full court to extend the lead with steals that turned into points."
To Cooper, the win was a team effort highlighted by a strong individual performance.
"The girls played well again, with everyone contributing," she said.
The statistic leader for the Bruins was Lakota Hatcher. She registered 18 points, four assists and four steals.
"She has such a good court sense," Cooper said. "She really looks like an athlete who knows what she doing."
Next up for the Azalea Bruins is a home matchup with Sunset Blue on Wednesday. The seventh grader's game begins at 4 p.m., followed by the eighth-grade at 5:30 p.m.