Reedley girls basketball outlasts Strathmore in opener

Defending Division V section champions, still working out kinks and conditioning, amp up defensive pressure to post 37-30 victory

Reedley High’s Emily  Pallesi fends off Strathmore High defender Alyssa Gonzalez during the Pirates’ 37-30 season-opening basketball victory over the Spartans on Nov. 14. Senior Pallesi finished with four points. (Jon Earnest)
Reedley High’s Emily Pallesi fends off Strathmore High defender Alyssa Gonzalez during the Pirates’ 37-30 season-opening basketball victory over the Spartans on Nov. 14. Senior Pallesi finished with four points. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published November 15, 2023  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – The Reedley High girls basketball team, returning key pieces from last season’s squad which captured the Central Section Division V championship, relied on its defensive prowess to start the 2023-24 season off on a winning note.

The Pirates sputtered offensively much of the night in a matchup against a strong small school opponent in Strathmore High, but relied on strong first and third quarter efforts to turn away the Spartans by a 37-30 score on Tuesday, Nov. 14 at Reedley High gym in the opener for both teams.

“We’re not in shape yet. We got tired and when you get tired you get lazy (in execution),” RHS coach Mike Pallesi said.”They’re a well-coached team, and it was a good first game. We did a lot of good things.”

The Pirates have 10 players, including three senior starters, back from a team that placed second in the Tri-County Conference Sequoia Division standings before moving down a division and posting four wins in a section title run.

Two of the seniors, guard-forward Raquel Cortez and forward-center Ana Drolette, led the scoring in the opener with nine points apiece. Cortez, one of the stars of the section title game win over Arvin, had eight points including a 3-pointer in the first half while Drolette had seven of her points in the fourth period as the Pirates weathered a Spartans rally.

Senior Emily Pallesi was scoreless in the first half, but the veteran scored all four of her points in the third quarter as Reedley went on a 9-3 run to build a 10-point lead after three quarters. Junior guard Niana Holman and sophomore guard Angie Hernandez added six points apiece, with Holman draining a pair of 3-point baskets in the first half.

“We spent a lot of time on (working on defense), but our offense will be fine,” Pallesi said of the team’s opening night execution. Reedley’s active half-court pressure forced many Strathmore shots late in the shot clock, including a handful of shot clock violations.

Reedley never trailed the contest against a Strathmore team that reached the semifinal round of the Division VI playoffs last season. The Spartans were led by senior point guard Alexis Ybarra and junior guard-forward Alyssa Gonzalez with eight points apiece, four by Gonzalez in the fourth period as the visitors pulled within six points.

“We’re going to a really tough tournament,” Pallesi said  of the Santa Maria Invitational, which begins Thursday, Nov. 16 with a game against Foothill Tech from Ventura. “We hope to get a couple of wins over there.” The Pirates also have games scheduled against teams from Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.

Reedley also has tournaments scheduled in Fresno (Hoover tournament on Dec. 6-9) and its own Reedley Invitational (Dec. 28-30). The Pirates will play four home games later this month, including a Foundation Game against Fowler High on Nov. 28.

Jon Earnest
Reporter