Late rally seals district win for Alice girls

Pete Garcia, Alice Echo-News Journal

CALALLEN - Sometimes luck is just as good as skill. And Mariah Mandel displayed both in the final minute of Friday night's game to clinch a win over the Calallen Lady Wildcats, 46-42.

With Alice behind by one with only 45 seconds left on the clock, Mandel went on a run in which she scored five points and grabbed two crucial rebounds. She finished the game with seven points.

She began her spree by picking a loose ball under Alice's basket and hurling a desperation lay-up which went in and drew a foul. She then converted the ensuing foul shot to give the Lady Coyotes a 44-42 advantage.

"I was so scared," Mandel said after the game. "I pretty much just put it up. I was just hoping it would go in and it did. I was happy it did."

Calallen took the ball back down court and Amanda Haven launched a potential game-winning three pointer which bounced off the rim. Again, Mandel was there for the rebound and was quickly fouled. With 11 seconds left, she missed her free throw attempt. The rebound was collected by Kim Rea who passed it to Mandel for a last basket.

"Our girls showed a lot being down by four and coming back like that at the end," Alice coach Tracy Zamora said. "We have a long and healthy rivalry with Calallen. Over the years, we've won some and they've won some, but the thing about when we play is that it's going to be a competitive game."

Friday's was just that. After a see-saw first half in which the lead repeated traded hands, the third period began with the Lady Coyotes down, 30-26. With a strong defensive effort underneath by Rea and Ashley Arrellano, Alice was able to cut the deficit to one going into the fourth.

"Our girls showed a lot out there by coming back from four and hanging there and winning it," Zamora said. "I knew the kids had it in them. It was just a matter of going out there and doing it."

Olivia Salas played a huge role in the first half and kept the Lady Wildcats within reach by scoring 11 points, nine of which came off three three-pointers. She led Alice with 13. Kim Rea had 11 points and a handful of key rebounds.

The Lady Coyotes also had big points from Salinas, Ashley Arrellano and Kaleigh McKelvey.