LEMOORE — Kyla Wiley’s game-high 24 points led a trio of double-digit scorers for Lemoore as they outlasted Hanford West down the stretch in their home opener 65-56 on Tuesday.
Lemoore guard MJ Bresenio scored 14 points and guard Sophia Ramirez added 13 points. The trio combined for just over 77 percent of the team’s scoring.
The win was the first of the season for the Tigers and moved them to an even 1-1. Last season, the Tigers started out 0-7 and didn’t get their first win until Dec. 9.
Entering the fourth quarter, the Tigers’ 11-point lead had been sliced to five (49-45). But just like they started the third quarter, the Tigers went on a run.
Ramirez finished a layup inside followed by a 3-pointer and jumper at the top of the key by Bresenio for a 7-0 run and a 12-point lead. Bresenio’s baskets came after Hanford West missed four consecutive free throws.
“Our kids stepped up and got tough all of a sudden and started making hustle plays,” Lemoore coach Jennifer Anderson said. “They showed a lot of toughness tonight. We can tend to be soft sometimes and they stepped up.”
After a Huskies timeout, Chelene Howard hit 1-of-2 free throws, but the defense had no response for Ramirez who scored seven points in the fourth quarter and who’s layup gave the Tigers a 58-45 lead — their largest of the night — with 4:40 left in the game.
“Lemoore started penetrating and we were not stepping over to help and they gained momentum with easy baskets,” Hanford West coach Torreya Edwards said.
Kolbi Adams led the Huskies with a team-high 21 points and was hot to start the game. She went 3-for-3 from beyond the arc and scored 13 points in the first quarter alone as she helped the Huskies to a 20-18 lead at the end of the first.
“I have a passion for basketball and I just want to be the best that I can for my team and I want to be a leader on the court,” Adams said.
Lemoore’s full-court press slowed down Hanford West in the second quarter and forced them into turnovers before getting to half court. The Tigers took advantage with easy baskets underneath and outscored the Huskies 13-7 in the second quarter for a 31-27 lead at halftime.
“We have to execute the plays, we have to execute our defense and that was the difference of coming back,” Edwards said. “Not capitalizing off of certain things like steals and getting those nice 3-pointers and feeding off that energy.”
Ramirez, Bresenio and Wiley all scored to give the Tigers a 6-0 run to start the second half and an 11-point lead. It was the first double-digit lead for either team.
“When we take care of the ball we can actually be a pretty potent team,” Anderson said. “We kind of opened it up a little bit. We haven’t been able to do that in our first two [games]. It was nice to see them control [the ball] and feel in control of the floor.”
The Huskies responded with 3-pointers by Taylor Whitfield, who scored seven of her eight points in the third, and back-to-back shots by Adams and Howard. Lemoore’s Tori Sheldon, who finished with nine points, beat the buzzer with a shot from the top of the key to end the third quarter.
For the Huskies, Howard scored nine points, Mary Shoals had seven points and Aujanae also scored seven points. Hanford West struggled from the charity stripe by missing 21 free throws.
“For the team, as a whole, we need to get our defense together,” Adams said. “If we can get our defense solid, no one can stop us.”