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Palo Verde finds itself on short end in tournament opener

Palo Verde’s girls basketball team isn’t blessed with height.

The Panthers have three forwards, none taller than 5 feet, 11 inches, on their 11-player roster. And that makes rebounding a challenge.

It was especially evident Thursday as the Panthers were outrebounded badly and lost a 64-37 decision to Jefferson (Washington) in the opening round of the Las Vegas Holiday Classic at Centennial.

“We don’t seem to ever have size, and we don’t again (this year),” Palo Verde coach Phil Clarke said. “We tell them 6-4 is going to beat 5-9 every time, so you have to do the little things and box out. They’re a good team, and they just got too many second chances.”

Jefferson, which started 6-2 center Nadira Eltayib and 6-0 forward Hila Veikoso, held a 55-24 edge in rebounds, and had 28 offensive rebounds.

As a result, the Panthers never led and rarely threatened after missing their first four shots and turning over the ball four times in the first three minutes.

Palo Verde (4-5) closed to within 13-10 on Kedrena Johnson’s drive with 7:01 left in the second quarter, but the Raiders (5-2) closed the second quarter on a 15-1 run and led 28-11 at the half.

The Panthers also struggled to find a consistent third option on offense.

Alyssa Maillaro scored 19 points and Johnson added 12 points for Palo Verde, but the rest of the team combined for just six points on 3-for-18 shooting.

“We’re missing a couple of people because of injuries and just not being here,” Clarke said. “That’s one of the good things about a tournament. Missing a couple of people, we can try to find someone who will step up. Alyssa and Kedrena are big parts of what we’re going to do, and then it’s going to be finding those others to contribute.”

Hailey Still led Jefferson with 14 points. Eltayib added 11 points and 11 rebounds. Jayden Fazio scored 11 for the Raiders.

More preps: Follow at nevadapreps.com and @NevadaPreps on Twitter.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4602.

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