“The girls have been antsy to play (in a meaningful game) since summer workouts,” said Elizabeth Tolleson, Patterson coach. “We played very hard against Atwater, and the team was very excited to get its first preseason win at home.”
Against Atwater, the Tigers scored 19 of the game’s first 24 points on the way to a 39-13 first-half run, highlighted by a tenacious defense that often created turnovers before the visitors could push the ball past midcourt.
“Our main concern every game is that we go out and play hard every possession,” Tolleson said. “I want to out-hustle every team we play against. We have the players to run other teams into the ground.”
Patterson’s initial defensive flurry was fueled by guard Janel Ortega, whose lockdown of Atwater’s best backcourt players disrupted the Falcons’ offensive rhythm from the start.
Tigers fans watched Ortega — who made 10 of her team’s 35 steals — lead a defensive effort that resulted in easy transition opportunities and open shots on the other end.
“The girls know if they want to play, they have to get after it on defense on every possession,” Tolleson said. “That forces all of the girls to work hard on defense, and it causes the opposing team to get frustrated.”
While the Patterson team’s shooting cooled during brief stretches, the intensity never wavered. Even as the Tigers moved their lead to 20 points and beyond, every shot, pass and dribble was contested, Tolleson said.
“The team should be happy with the win, but never satisfied,” Tolleson said. “We went hard on every possession. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to our season.”
The Tigers will continue the season with a game against Avenal High at 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, during the Chowchilla Invitational at Chowchilla High.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.