JACKSON – One of the goals set by the Calaveras High School girls’ basketball team at the beginning of the season was to contend for a Mother Lode League title. Well, Calaveras got its opportunity.
In a clash against the Argonaut Mustangs that would most likely decide the league champions, Calaveras came up just short and lost to Argonaut 60-49 Friday night in Jackson.
Following the loss, the Calaveras players were visibly upset with the outcome. But head coach Jeremy Malamed didn’t want his players thinking that just because they might not finish the season at the top of the league standings, that this year wasn’t a success.
“They are disappointed and we should be,” Malamed said. “We set a goal to win league and they wanted to do that. They were all in and fully invested and fully engaged. To come up short, it hurts, but things happen in life and you’re going to come up short of your goals. But we can never let the fact that we might not get it, keep us from going for it. That’s what I told them after the game. They really wanted it and it’s going to hurt for a couple of days, but we are going to show up Monday excited.”
One of those most upset was senior Gabriella Malamed. In her final Mother Lode League road game, she was unable to walk off the floor victorious. And without help from Bret Harte or Amador, her Calaveras career will end without a league title.
“It hurts. It really hurts,” Gabriella Malamed said. “When you give it all you have and come up short, it just really hurts.”
One area that hurt Calaveras was its 3-point shooting. Typically, a strong team from behind the arc, Calaveras couldn't get constant shooting from 3-point land, which cost the team down the stretch.
“It was a poor shooting night,” Malamed said. “You can’t attribute it all to poor shooting, as you have to give credit to Argonaut and their defense, but we had a lot of wide-open shots that weren’t falling. Outside of Bailie Clark, nobody really got going all night. Bailie is a great player, but you need more than one player to get going and we didn’t get that second player going consistently.”
Gabriella Malamed made four shots from downtown and two of them came in the opening eight minutes. Calaveras trailed Argonaut 4-0 early in the contest, but battled back and built a 14-6 lead. Calaveras ended the opening period with a 17-13 advantage.
The second quarter was as rough offensively as it could get for Calaveras. Senior Skyler Cooper drained a 3-point basket, which turned out to be the only points Calaveras got in the quarter. Calaveras was 0 for 6 from the free throw line and while it was unable to score, Argonaut had no problems putting the ball in the basket.
In the final three minutes of the half, Argonaut outscored Calaveras 11-0 and led 29-20 at the midway point.
“It happened pretty fast with missed shots, rebounds and put-backs,” Malamed said. “But with all that, to be down by nine, which isn’t great, but we felt we could get back in the game quickly if we needed to.”
Trailing by nine to begin the third quarter, Calaveras began to crawl back into the game, thanks in large part by the play from freshman Bailie Clark. Of Clark’s team-high 20 points, 13 of them came in the third quarter. With the help from Clark, Calaveras outscored Argonaut 17-11 in the quarter and entered the final eight minutes trailing 40-37.
Clark scored to begin the fourth quarter to bring Calaveras within one-point, but that’s as close as her team got to taking the lead. Each time Calaveras got close to taking the lead, Argonaut came up with a big shot. As the deficit started to grow, Calaveras leaned on its downtown shooting, which just wasn’t falling.
Argonaut outscored Calaveras 20-12 in the fourth quarter. But even trailing late in the game, Gabriella Malamed never gave up hope that her team would figure out a way to mount some sort of a comeback.
“I believe in my team 100 percent,” she said. “Even when they were shooting free throws with 21 seconds left and we were down by 11, I kept looking at the clock and thought, ‘Let’s go.’ I never, ever thought otherwise. I just believe in my team so much.”
Bailie Clark led Calaveras with 20 points and had five rebounds and three assists; Malamed scored 16; Madison Clark scored six points; Cooper had four points; and freshman Brooke Nordahl scored three points.
Calaveras will now shift its focus to another important week of basketball. While a league title may be out of the picture, Calaveras still has its senior night on Tuesday, along with its county clash with Bret Harte on Friday. And then, the playoffs will begin
“We have senior night on Tuesday and we want to recognize and honor our girls the right way,” Malamed said. “We are going to focus on Summerville for senior night and then Bret Harte on Friday. After that, we’ll turn the page and start looking at the playoffs. But until then, we are going to finish this thing the right way and give each game its proper dues and give the seniors their proper dues going out, too.”
Calaveras will host Summerville at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday in San Andreas and then will take on Bret Harte at 6 p.m., Friday night also in San Andreas.