Los Banos guard Jacquelin Arretche led all scorers with 24 points, while center Evelyn Johnson (14 rebounds) and forward Savannah Pena (12 rebounds) held down the paint against a dangerous Raider front court, helping the Tigers to a 39-27 rebound advantage.
“We felt like, this is our house,” Johnson said. “We already have a bad record, a three-game losing streak, we have to pick it up, and we did. We picked up the intensity today, we worked together and we talked.”
It was a far cry from a 51-43 Central win over the Tigers in late January, the middle game of that streak. Los Banos switched things up defensively this time around, playing aggressive man-to-man and occasionally going to a box-and-one against Central’s dangerous freshman Danielle Friedrich.
“Entertaining, huh? We go down and come back up, be ahead and let them back in,” Los Banos coach Danny Crosby said. “Some of those shots that they were throwing up were the same thing when we were at their place – not really a decent shot, but a shot you kind of chunk up there and hope that it goes in. And they had a couple of those that fell. They’re a decent team, but the girls played hard and stayed focused.”
Los Banos looked destined for another collapse after Central jumped out to a 15-4 lead, but the Tigers chipped away throughout the second quarter. An Arretche 3-pointer gave Los Banos its first lead (21-20) on the first possession of the second half, but Central’s Hannah Friedrich responded with one of her own, setting the tone for a back-and-forth battle.
Briana Kelly started the fourth with a putback to vault CC back on top, one of seven lead changes in the second half. The final lead change came on an Arretche steal at half court followed by a layup with 30 seconds remaining. Central inbounded and moved up the court with long passes, but overthrew one, resulting in a Lauren Arbrura steal for Los Banos.
The game was the first for sophomore Los Banos guard Keiloni Smith since a knee sprain took her out early in the season. She didn’t record many stats, but her aggressive defense and passing galvanized Los Banos on both sides of the court.
“We have really excellent guards,” Johnson said. “Now that we have Keiloni back, I feel like Jacquelin and Nicole (Marchese) are a bit more relaxed, because they have their backup.”