In what turned out to be a frustratingly close loss, primarily owing to an egregious officiating error, the Lady Panthers Varsity Basketball Team (4-12 overall; 0-1 in district) lost a hard-fought game 64-62 in overtime Tuesday night to the Lady Falcons of Loving (10-9 overall; 1-0 in district). The Lady Panthers led throughout most of the game, with Jal scoring 19, 13, 13, and 11 in successive quarters, and Loving scoring 17, 13, 9, and 17 over the same quarters. The Lady Falcons gained their first lead of the game in the second period, 23-21. The Lady Panthers were having trouble with rebounds and defense, and the Falcons were able to capitalize on that momentary weakness, extending their lead to 25-21 with five minutes remaining in the 2nd period. Jocelyn Hernandez stole the ball twice, scoring both times, and then followed up with a layup, giving the Lady Panthers the lead once again. With just one minute remaining in the half, the Lady Panthers led 30-27.
At halftime, the score was 32-30, with the Lady Panthers holding onto a slim lead. Rylee Crawford scored the first points of the 2nd half for the Lady Panthers. With some very competitive and aggressive playing on both sides, Jal led 38-34 with 5:30 minutes remaining in the 3rd. The Lady Panthers never led by more than six points, with the score being 45-39 at the beginning of the fourth. However, the Lady Falcons roared back in the fourth quarter, scoring 17 points to Jal’s 11. The Lady Falcons used the full court press to good effect in the 4th period, stealing the ball and limiting the Lady Panthers offense. The Lady Falcons pulled ahead 48-47 with just under five minutes remaining in the game. Rylee Crawford was fouled, and tied the game up 48-48 with her first free throw and then sank her second free throw, giving the Lady Panthers back the lead, 49-48 with 4-1/2 minutes remaining in the game.
The Falcons quickly gained the lead again, 50-49, which was quickly answered by a successful rebound by Natalie Nunez, giving Jal back the lead, 51-50. The lead went back and forth for the next several minutes. With three minutes remaining in the game, the Lady Falcons had pulled ahead 56-51. Hernandez tied the game up 56-56 with a three-point shot with under a minute remaining. The game went into overtime. Layne Parsons appeared to have a cramp or injury of some kind with about 2-1/2 minutes remaining in the first overtime period. Coach Karen Komar and Dusty Loftis were assisting her for several minutes as she lay on the floor. After several minutes, during which time play was suspended, Parsons was able to get up and walk to the bench.
The game was tied up 60-60 with two minutes remaining. Jocelyn Hernandez uncharacteristically missed a three-point shot at about two minutes remaining in the overtime period. With about 1-1/2 minutes remaining, the referee apparently did not notice that Rylee Crawford was tying her shoelaces, and the Falcons were able to throw the ball in and sink an easy basket. Coach Jimmy Samaniego, Jr. got quite upset and protested vehemently, but the basket nevertheless counted. Crawford then tied the game back up with just over one minute remaining. Jocelyn Hernandez missed a layup that would have tied the game. The Lady Panthers did not get another chance to shoot, as the Falcons had the ball, with 1.2 seconds remaining. The Lady Falcons won 64-62 in what was a highly competitive match.
After the game, Coach Samaniego expressed his frustration with the failure on the part of the officials to notice Crawford was tying her shoes, which mistake resulted in an easy basket for the Lady Falcons. He said that overall the game was highly competitive. He said, “Those things happen. We played a hard game. It was hard fought, to get in overtime. You can’t fault the effort. I’m proud of the girls. It’s one of those games we almost had here. It happens.” The Lady Panthers face the Lady Cardinals of Eunice this Friday night. He said, “We’ve got to get back to it on Friday.” He said his team didn’t work a good offensive set like they needed to. “We’ll go back and look at the films. It helps to get the flow. We’re not too far off. It was an exciting game. I wish we would have came out on top.”