Turnovers help Christopher fend off San Benito

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Christopher got out to a choppy start against San Benito, but the defense hung in there and quickly turned into a game that the Cougars controlled.
Christopher shook off a five-point first quarter, forced the Balers into 35 turnovers for the game and went on to win 42-34.
“The second half, I was very please,” said coach Robert Otis. “We actually decided to get into our lanes, put some pressure on them and cause some turnovers.”
But it was a game where both coaches were shaking their heads after.
“Every coach has said probably one of the top two things is turnovers, they’ll kill you. And we had quite a few turnovers,” said Baler coach Mitch Burley. “But more importantly for us early in the game, we had the lead, but we didn’t make a lot of shots and it continued in the second half.”
The Cougars won the turnover battle (giving up the ball 12 fewer times), but they missed 18 freethrows and were losing the rebounding battle until late.
“I think Hollister’s team was strong all the way around,” Otis said. “They came in and played us tough in our own gym. I think what hurt us really, was my senior guards got in foul trouble. When they got in foul trouble and my substitutions came in, they didn’t take care of the ball as well.”
And even then, Hollister still won the battle on the boards by seven.
Callee Heen was a bucket shy of a double-double for the balers, scoring eight points with 10 rebounds and four blocks.
San Benito blocked 10 shots on the night.
But Christopher still found ways to get the ball to fall.
The Cougars outscored the Balers 37-25 after the first quarter, led by the shooting of Makenzie Barnes, who had 11.
“She was awfully good. She’s always been an offensive player, but we’ve been trying to get her good on the defensive end too,” Otis said. “Tonight she was very good both ways.”
She was followed by Julia Rodiguez with nine and Angel Harper with eight.
No one for San Benito broke double figures, with Kianna Garcia scoring nine to lead the Balers.
Hollister, however, didn’t quit.
With Christopher leading by 12 in the fourth quarter, San Benjto clawed its way to a five-point deficit with less than two minutes to play.
“I hate yelling at them, but I want to encourage them and inspire them to do more,” Burley said. “We had that little spurt there where we hit two or three shots in a row. I’ve always told them it’s always more fun when the shots go in. I don’t know if the message was any different other than they made a few shots.”
The Balers had a stretch where they forced Christopher into a couple of turnovers and scored buckets on the back end.
However, Christopher didn’t let Hollister completely back in the game.
And with one minute to go, a travel call and an offensive foul effectively ended the night for Hollister.
The game overall was choppy, with both teams combining for 44 free throw attempts.
“I tell them officiating has no baring on the game. We have to figure out how to adjust and overcome the calls that may go against you,” Otis said.
Hollister initially stayed alive in the game—trailing 19-16 at the half— because it made eight of 16 attempts for the game.
Christopher, meanwhile, hit 10 of 28 from the charity stripe.
The Cougars move on to play at Salinas 7 p.m. Tuesday. San Benito, meanwhile, will host Gilroy 7 p.m. Tuesday.

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