The Wildcats started their season on the road in Salinas Tuesday night. The confluence of the young season, the long drive, and the beginning of Thanksgiving break caused the team to start the game a little sluggish. The Eagles jumped out to a quick lead powered by three put-backs after offensive rebounds. The Cats managed to find the beginnings of a groove, thanks to multiple baskets from senior Sabrina Belquist, and crawled back to within six for a 15-9 deficit at the end of one.
The energized Cats continued their run in the second quarter with more baskets from Belquist (who led all scorers with 25) and sophomore Natalie Anthony, who found the gaps in the defense around the hoop. The Cats defense stiffened, holding the Eagles to six points on two three-pointers in the frame. At halftime, the game was tied at 21.
The teams traded baskets for most of the third quarter, with the Cats rapidly accruing team fouls, putting the Eagles in the bonus. Anthony and junior Carlee King did the dirty work inside, getting rebounds and limiting the Eagle opportunities for second-chance points. The score was still deadlocked after three, 32-32.
The Eagles snuck out to a small lead halfway through the fourth. With foul trouble keeping Belquist on the bench, the Cats found their scoring elsewhere, with an offensive put-back from Anthony tying the game with just under two minutes left. The Eagles made it back to the line and went ahead again until junior Maddie Dewhirst calmly knocked down a three-pointer from the left wing to put the Cats up by one. A Wildcat rebound on the next possession necessitated an Eagle foul, putting Dewhirst on the free-throw line with a chance to put the Cats up three. She made the first, but the Eagles got the rebound on the second and called a timeout with 2.3 seconds left to draw up a play. King, who had been finding the ball all night, intercepted the pass and was fouled; she casually sunk two free throws to put the Cats up four and seal the victory. The Wildcats will take their 1-0 record home to face the Chargers of Leland next Tuesday, December 3.