Immanuel girls basketball collects first win

Retooled Eagles, battling to get healthy, put away Madera South late to post 43-29 victory

Immanuel High guard Elizabeth Davila looks toward the basket to pass while guarded by Madera South’s Jalissa Kirkpatrick during the first half of the Eagles’ 43-29 victory over the Stallions on Nov. 28. The junior guard scored four points and ran the floor as she recovers from offseason shoulder surgery. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published November 29, 2023  • 
11:00 am

REEDLEY – Buoyed by the addition of a key veteran player, the Immanuel HIgh girls basketball team cracked the win column for the first time this season on Tuesday night, Nov. 28.

Senior guard and captain Sid Azua returned to the lineup and scored 11 points while sophomore forward Ava Schletewitz scored eight of her team-high 12 points in the third quarter as the Eagles (1-1) controlled most of the second half to put away visiting Madera South, 43-29. Immanuel had opened its season a week earlier, dropping a 49-39 home decision to Hoover High.

Coach Loren LeBeau said the team is working its way to getting healthy after two regulars dealt with off-season medical issues.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries,” he said. “First team all-leaguer (Azua) has practiced a handful of times. This is her first game (back), she broke her tibia. Elizabeth Davila had shoulder surgery, and she had cramps because she hasn’t practiced. So we’re just trying to fit it together.”

Azua came off the bench against the Stallions (3-3) and had her right knee wrapped after sustaining the injury below the knee during the summer. She began to get her in the second quarter with six points, including one of her two 3-point baskets, as the Eagles wiped out an early six-point deficit to lead 18-15 at halftime.

Schletewitz then began to establish an inside presence with four baskets in the third quarter, as Immanuel built the lead up to nine points. Sophomore guard Nana Moreno then scored four of her eight points in the final quarter with the Eagles getting more open floor running opportunities.

LeBeau said the team will use early season tournaments to gain conditioning and experience for a general young roster that lost key players Allison Friesen and Sadie Carpenter to graduation.

“We’re still missing three players from cross country, and they’re just starting to get into (basketball) shape,” he said. “It’s gonna be a really young team; five of them will be freshman, three sophomores, one junior and three seniors.”

One of those freshmen, guard Jenna Goertzen (who LeBeau called “one of the hardest workers I’ve ever coached”), contributed four points while Tatum Garza added one point. Junior guard Davila had four points and showed good passing skills while senior guard Jade Laemmlen added three points.

Immanuel High guard Jenna Goertzen dribbles against Madera South defender Mayrlin Vasquez during the first half of the Eagles’ 43-29 victory over the Stallions on Nov. 28. The freshman guard scored four points in the contest. (Jon Earnest)

Senior guard Briannal Lorta paced Madera South with a game-high 13 points, four coming in the opening quarter as the visitors led 8-5 after eight minutes. Guard Mayrin Vasquez scored eight points for the Stallions.

LeBeau said he expects the Eagles to kick their game into gear with additional early season games.

“We’ve got to get them into basketball shape, but this team will get going. It’s just going to be later than last year,” he said.

The Eagles tip off play in the Selma Tournament on Thursday, Nov. 30, with a 5:30 p.m. game against Washington Union, then play Mendota High at 4 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1. The Eagles conclude the tourney against an opponent to be determined on Dec. 2.

Immanuel also will participate in the Hoover Holiday Tournament in Fresno on Dec. 6-9 the Buchanan Tournament Dec. 21-23 and the Arvin Tourney Dec. 28-30.

Jon Earnest