LOS BANOS -- Joseph Barcellos acknowledged that beating Pitman would be a daunting task regardless of who was on the court.
But with top scorers Rubal Sangha and Andrae Jones relegated to the bench because of injury and the flu, respectively, the Los Banos boys basketball coach knew Wednesday night could be a particular struggle.
Barcellos said it would take a near flawless performance for LB to hold on to its No. 8 spot in the Division I power rankings and at the same time grab a share of second place in the Central California Conference.
Thanks to senior Nick Gutierrez shouldering a lot of the offensive load, LB remained competitive through the first eight minutes.
But the rest of the team couldn't meet the challenge and Pitman cruised to a 53-33 victory.
"We knew points were going to be a problem tonight," Barcellos said. "I told the guys before the game that they'd need to step up, but we didn't get enough of a contribution."
With no one to contain him in the post, Pitman (8-3 CCC, 17-7) rode Adam Lewallen's 11 first half points to a 26-15 lead.
Gutierrez did his best to respond, scoring nine of his game-high 19 points in the third quarter.
Unfortunately, the rest of LB could only muster an additional 14 points.
"I kind of had a hot hand early and we were able to ride it," Gutierrez said. "They put their smallest guy on me, so I took him to the block. I was able to get inside on him a lot."
Los Banos (7-5 CCC, 18-9) seemed to catch a break when Pitman guard Austin Keaton and Lewallen were each forced to sit with four fouls with just over four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Remarkably, with it's two stars on the pine, Pitman expanded its lead to 15 heading into the fourth quarter.
"It seemed like a good opportunity for us to get back in it, but they run a little deeper than we do," Barcellos said. "We got the lead down to nine, but they answered right back."
With Keaton and Lewallen shut out in the second half, Andre Matson and Joe Maddon picked up the offensive slack.
Matson finished with 12 points and Maddon added a team-high 13 points and seven rebounds.
Josh Bourbon had eight points for LB and Steven Lowe chipped in four.
Sean Lynch is a Sun-Star sports writer. He can be reached at 385-2476 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
LOS BANOS 33
At Los Banos High
Pitman 12 14 14 13 -- 53
Los Banos 11 4 10 8 -- 33
PITMAN -- Ryan Clay 6, Andre Matson 12, Austin Keaton 2, Juan Flores 3, Sam Maddon 13, Nic Schoyer 5, Robert Beale 1, Adam Lewallen 11. Totals 19 10-14 53.
LOS BANOS -- Steven Lowe 4, Phillip Etcheverry 1, Nick Gutierrez 19, Josh Bourbon 8, Tory Jones 1. Totals 12 7-12 33.
3-pointers: Pitman 5 (Maddon 3, Flores, Matson), Los Banos 2 (Bourbon 2); Total Fouls: Pitman 17, Los Banos 16; Foul Outs: Lewallen (P); Technicals: Marable (P), Barcellos (LB).
Records: Pitman 8-3 CCC, 17-7; Los Banos 7-5 CCC, 18-9.
JV -- Los Banos won.