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Chieftains edge Orioles
Times photo: Adam Krebs Argyle sophomore Danielle Treuthardt reaches in and forces a jump ball in the first half of the Orioles 39-34 loss to Riverdale Saturday.
ARGYLE - The Lady Orioles are not a team that typical holds leads, let alone big leads. So when Argyle (2-18) twice led by 10 points against Riverdale (11-9) in a non-conference game Saturday, the Oriole faithful got as loud as ever.

"Our girls were pretty pumped tonight," Argyle head coach Johnny Hinojosa said. "The crowd was the loudest it's ever been. That crowd told us everything. We had kids running up and down the court doing the wave. They were into it and that means so much to the girls."

The Orioles went on to fall, 39-34, but Hinojosa said it was one of the best games of the season for his club.

"It would have been a heck of an upset. To go out and prove that we're not just a rug to walk on, we played with a lot of heart," he said. "Even though we lost, this was a statement game. If we can play with a team like this, it's a statement sent out that we are going to play hard and not lay down for anybody."

Riverdale, a Division 3 team, boasts 6-foot, 1-inch Jade Lins and 6-foot Erin Fradette, both of whom can dominate in the paint. In the first half of Saturday's game, Argyle's defense found a way to shut both of them down.

"To get a lead was something we never do, so it was pretty intense. And we kept it for a pretty long time," junior Kelsey Bartels said.

Lins, who averages nearly 12 points per game, was held to just four points in the first half, and Fradette (6.6 ppg) was scoreless.

A layup by Danielle Treuthardt got the Orioles out to an early 2-0 lead, an advantage the Orioles wouldn't give up until the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Jackie Dammen put the crowd on its feet and a layup with 12 seconds left in the first by Courtney Gilbertson kept Argyle ahead 10-6 before the second.

Jeannie Dammen hit another big 3-pointer in the second to put Argyle up seven, and senior Stephanie Cuevas, a petite 5-1 guard, scored the last five points of the half for the Orioles, including a buzzer beating 3-pointer from 30 feet out with defenders draped on her.

Riverdale thought it was going to have the last shot of the half, but a turnover gave the ball back to Argyle with 3 seconds left. Cuevas took the inbound near halfcourt and sprinted up the left sideline. Falling over, Cuevas avoided the hands of defenders and launched the ball, banking in the 3-pointer that gave the Orioles a 22-14 lead at the break.

"It was a once in a lifetime experience," Cuevas said, who couldn't believe the shot went in. "It was a big shot and it helped our team."

The basket gave Argyle a shot in the arm, something Hinojosa said his team was ready for.

"I jumped about four feet in the air. It gave us a lot of momentum," he said.

The Orioles held the lead throughout the third quarter, despite scoring just seven points. The Chieftains anteed up the pressure on defense, which forced Argyle into several turnovers. A 6-0 run to open the fourth gave Riverdale its first lead of the game at 31-29. Argyle came back to tie the game at 34 with 57 seconds left on a pair of free throws by Treuthardt before the Chieftains closed on a 5-0 run.

"We had a chance. We got a little frantic, but for the most part we held our own," Cuevas said.

Bartels did her best to keep Argyle in the game. Bartels continually was pounded to the ground throughout the contest, but continued to

get up and keep fighting.

"Coach told me to go out there and be strong and take one for the team," she said.

Late in the fourth quarter, Bartels was knocked hard to the ground while driving to the hoop, and seemingly didn't want to get up to shoot her bonus shots. But the will to get a win took her to the line and she finished the game.

"We've been in a loop for a little while and we needed the win," she said.

Hinojosa was proud of Bartels. "She played a heck of a game. That was probably the best we've seen her play all year, and that's exactly what I expected from her," he said.

Argyle hosts Darlington tonight in the regular season finale.