Defense carries Coronado girls

The harshest critic could have found plenty of room for improvement for Coronado’s girls basketball team Wednesday.

The Cougars, though, were more than pleased just to find an aggressive defense and a victory.

After going 1-4 in a tournament last week at Centennial, Coronado opened play in the Sierra Vista Invitational with a 47-44 victory over Legacy.

“At least we played hard today,” Coronado coach Bill Crego said. “The games over at Centennial we didn’t play hard. We were getting the loose balls on the floor today. That was a big difference.”

The Cougars shot just 16-for-51 from the field, including an 8-for-24 effort in the first half, and committed 21 turnovers. But Coronado made up for it by constantly frustrating the Longhorns on defense and forcing 29 turnovers.

“I’ll bet we missed 20 layups,” Crego said. “But I was really pleased with our defense.”

Coronado built a 33-25 lead a minute into the fourth quarter, but Legacy clawed its way back to within a point when Deja Brown’s basket in the paint made the score 42-41 with 2:52 to go.

Sofie Cruz’s two free throws with 32.1 seconds left stretched Coronado’s edge to 45-42.

Ashley Johnson swatted away Tori Payne’s drive to the basket with less than 15 seconds to go, and Cruz sank two more free throws with 5.4 seconds left.

Cruz scored 16 of her 21 points in the second half. Johnson added 10 points, and Dajah Washington scored nine for Coronado.

“The whole team is more comfortable when the ball is in Sofie’s hands,” Crego said. “Everybody else needs to contribute. A lot of times when Sofie takes over like that, the other girls stand around and watch. It puts a lot of pressure on her, but it also allows other teams to try to take her away.”

Payne had 14 points and 14 rebounds for Legacy, which got 10 points from Brown and nine points from Markeisha Evans.

Contact reporter Bartt Davis at bdavis@reviewjournal.com or (702) 387-5230

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