MURRAY The West High teaching staff shouldn't expect to see any homework from Fesi Vaisigano or Krystal Mascarenas turned in early. They love that deadline pressure.
Which may explain why the duo led the West girls basketball team to a win with a crunch-time performance that featured dominating rebounding and hitting some high-pressure shots.
"We always pull it together at the end," said Mascarenas, a senior guard who finished with eight points, two 3-pointers, in the Panthers 51-41 win against the Colts Wednesday.
West coach Ronnie Stubbs said the team's tough play down the stretch helped them earn a critical win in their region opener.
"I told them Cottonwood was a good team, and that they could beat us if we didn't play well," he said. "I knew if we could get that first road win it would set the tone."
The tone the Panthers want to set is one that will earn them a region title.
"That's our goal," Stubbs said. "Then, if we make the tournament, we'll see how far we go. We're keeping our focus on one game."
Cottonwood led 10-6 at the end of the first quarter, and both teams played well the second quarter with a 17-all scoreboard at halftime. West was hurt by forward Fusi Lutui getting into foul trouble, but senior guard/forward Fesi Vaisigano and junior forward Amy Christensen picked up the slack, especially in the fourth quarter when the Panthers pulled away with three minutes left and the score tied at 35. One of the aspects of the win Stubbs and his players enjoyed most was how every player who stepped on the floor contributed to the effort.
"We use everyone on the bench," said Vaisigano. "It's good to have everyone step it up when we need it."
The Colts were led by junior guard Angie Schwartz, who finished with 13 points, sophomore forward Karlee Paloukos, who added 11 points, and junior guard Erika Nash, who earned 10 points in the loss.
"We lost our focus a little bit," said Colts head coach Matt Baumann. "We just didn't execute down the stretch, and they did."
He singled out West forward Fesi Vaisigano as hurting the team a lot with her offensive rebounding.
"She played really well for us," said Stubbs. He talked with Vaisigano after she received her third foul. "She's a volleyball player, and so she's always moving. I just told her to slow down. She did, took her time, and played great there at the end."
She finished with 14 points, eight of them coming from offensive rebounds.
Vaisigano said adjusting to basketball is difficult at times but credits her teammates with helping her adjust.
"Krystal is here to remind me," she said with a laugh. Mascarenas and Vaisigano said they had a little pregame jitters as it was their first region game.
"We really want to start out with a win," Mascarenas said.
Now the difficulty will be to focus on each opponent and not get ahead of themselves. Mascarenas said they do a pretty good job of sharing the ball and the credit, and it all helps them keep everything in perspective."We just make sure not to get too big-headed by talking to each other," Mascarenas said.
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