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Righetti basketball: Natalie Garcia and Malia Cabigon help Warriors fend off Shafter 56-43

Righetti basketball: Natalie Garcia and Malia Cabigon help Warriors fend off Shafter 56-43

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The Righetti girls basketball team’s season opener was a success.

Natalie Garcia and Malia Cabigon scored 12 points each, Paityn Persson added 10 and the Warriors beat persistent Shafter 56-43 at Nipomo High School in a San Luis Obispo Tournament game Thursday.

The Generals are 0-2.

After trailing 18-4 late in the first quarter, the Generals pulled within 39-38 late in the third but, with a chance to take the lead, they turned the ball over.

Two defenders tussled with Persson for the ball in the lane on the ensuing possession. Persson, as she was falling down, got the ball to Abigail Salazar, and Salazar hit a 3-pointer.

Madisyn Cutliff scored on rebound basket for Righetti near the end of the third and the Warriors out-scored the Generals 12-5 in the fourth quarter.

“We played a good first and fourth quarter and a shaky second and third,” said Righetti coach Desiree Hitch.

“There were some first-game nerves. Players are trying to figure out their roles.”

The Righetti defense clamped down on the Generals in the fourth quarter.

The shorter Generals had some earlier success driving in the lane against the 5-foot-10 Persson and the 5-11 Cabigon for layups. Waiting patiently in the lane, Persson blocked two shots in the fourth quarter and Cabigon blocked one.

“It was just about waiting that split second longer, until the shooter had the ball in her hand and was about to shoot, to make a move,” said Persson.

“If you wait until then, the shooter is committed to shoot and she can’t do anything else. If you move too soon, they’ll go right around you.”

When they weren’t blocking shots in the fourth quarter, Cabigon and Persson were often forcing bad ones.

Persson played volleyball last year, and she said a volleyball injury kept her from finishing the 2018-19 basketball season.

“I didn’t want to take the chance this year,” so she wasn’t around for Righetti’s run that put the Warriors in the sectional volleyball  match, Persson said. She did have some solid early-season volleyball stats this year.

“I feel very comfortable with Paityn playing as the safety valve in the lane,” as the rest of the Warriors press farther upcourt, said Hitch.

“She’s a smart player.”

After the Generals often out-quicked the Warriors and grabbed offensive rebounds — Monica Birrueta scored a fourth-chance basket for Shafter in the third quarter — Cutliff helped Persson and Cabigon keep the Generals to one offensive rebound in the fourth.

“Madisyn is a smart player on defense who attacks the basket as well,” said Hitch.

Birrueta led Shafter with 10 points.

Though her team had its ups and downs Thursday, “If they keep working hard, my girls will have success,” said Hitch.

Righetti will play Clovis East at 3:30 p.m. Friday in another tournament game.

Nipomo 52, Bakersfield Liberty 34

The Titans (8-0) broke to a 9-0 lead in the first three minutes and cruised to a win at the San Luis Obispo Tournament.

Nipomo is the host site for the tournament.

Nine Titans scored. Makennah Simonson popped in 20 points and Kat Anderson had 11.

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Sports Reporter

Kenny Cress, sportswriter for the Santa Maria Times since September of 2000. BA in political science from Cal Poly Pomona. BA in journalism from Cal State Northridge.

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