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LEMOORE — After a rough preseason where the Lemoore girls basketball team struggled to earn two wins, things didn’t get any better on Thursday.

With three starters out of the lineup, including two captains, the Tigers tried to keep it close, but struggled to shoot throughout the night and fell 57-37 to El Diamante (6-9, 2-2 WYL).

Lemoore guard and captain Sophia Ramirez scored a team-high 11 points and hit three shots from beyond the arc. Katelyn Williams and Raya Roland each scored eight points.

“We’re so used to playing with everybody … when we miss a couple people it’s a little off,” Ramirez said. “We just tried to keep our heads straight, tried to stay smart.”

The loss puts them at 4-11 on the year and 2-2 in the West Yosemite League. It’s not the worst position to be in considering El Diamante and Golden West are also 2-2 in league, but Lemoore will have to improve if they want to get a couple more wins.

The loss was marked by lack of execution on offense, turnovers and a flat performance overall. The Tigers grabbed their first lead of the game with a layup from Williams to make it 8-7 with 4:45 remaining in the first.

“I think we were a little flat emotionally,” Lemoore coach Jennifer Anderson said. “No matter who’s on the floor we should be able to execute. That’s just being disciplined.”

The lead was short-lived — and their only of the game — as the Miners ended the quarter on an 11-2 run to lead 18-10.

The biggest difference the Miners were making was their perimeter shots, while the Tigers struggled to convert layups. El Diamante would hit eight 3-pointers in the game.

“A lot of it was them trying to play outside of themselves,” Anderson said. “They were trying to make up some stuff that we’re lacking right now because some kids are missing.”

Ramirez opened the second with a banking 3-pointer, but the Miners used an 8-3 run to create more separation, prompting Anderson to call a timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, the Tigers tried to cut into the lead by getting inside, but El Diamante found a way to score each time: a 3-pointer, getting to the free throw line or hitting a jumper.

The Lemoore defense looked lost on the courts. Almost as if there was no chemistry. They were late on switches and screens and were beat on the weak side for rebounds.

Down 33-22 at halftime, Lemoore talked about getting the energy up and playing within themselves instead of trying to do too much individually.

“We definitely have to be more positive on the bench and on the court,” Delanee Lopez, who finished with six points, said. “We tried to get each other as pumped up as we could. We knew we were still in it.”

But their shooting woes continued in the third and El Diamante built a 15-point lead with 2:31 to go. Ramirez managed to hit a 3-pointer with just over a minute to go, but the team trailed 44-31 after three quarters.

El Diamante continued to pull away in the fourth and led by 20 with 3:54 left in the game. The loss was the fourth for the Tigers in their last five games.

Up next, they’ll have a tough road game against Golden West (11-7, 2-2 WYL) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. The Trailblazers will be looking to rebound after a tough eight-point loss to Redwood.

Ramirez said they have to go hard in practice and work on rebounding the ball, help defense and finishing at the basket. Lopez shared the same mindset.

“We definitely want to work on the connection between the team,” Lopez said. “If there’s a player missing, two, three, we just want to play with what we got and learn how to play with it well.”

Noe Garcia can be reached at (559) 583-2431 or ngarcia@hanfordsentinel.com. Follow Noe on Twitter at @noecarlosgarcia.

Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Sentinel

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