How they started was not so impressive. But how they finished, that was a little more exciting.
The Pacheco High boys basketball team forced overtime to claim a 43-36 victory over crosstown rival Los Banos last Friday at Pacheco’s Brett L. Lee Gym.
After the Tigers and Panthers boys basektball teams combined to go 0 for 25 in the first quarter, the Panthers finished strong, outscoring Los Banos 13-6 in the overtime period.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game from the start, and they came out strong,” said Pacheco guard Jose Delacruz, who led all scorers with 19 points. “We just wanted it more, that was basically it.”
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Delacruz, a junior who played at Los Banos last year, shared a moment with a former teammate, the Tiger’s Justin Delgado, after the intensity of the game subsided.
“Finish up the season strong, all right?” Delgado commanded him as they shook hands coming out of opposite locker rooms.
“It was really tough. I cherish these guys. These guys are all good friends of mine,” Delacruz said. “For them to still support me even after I changed schools, it means a lot.”
The two schools played most of the game neck-and neck, with Los Banos leading 12-11 at halftime. Pacheco started the third quarter in a tight man defense to disrupt Los Banos’ flow, taking a 5-point lead on a pair of Juwan Epperson buckets.
“It helped me a lot with the steals. The defense becomes the offense,” Epperson said. “Coach told me to stop shooting – well not stop shooting, but play smart and drive to the basket.”
But the Tigers rebounded to tie the game 23-23 after three. In the fourth, two players scored their only points of the night to turn the tide, starting with Pacheco’s Maurice Harden, who scored a layup with 33 seconds left to give Pacheco a 30-28 lead. Los Banos’ Alec Barcellos responded with a hook shot to tie it again with 1 second remaining.
The Tigers were unable to keep up the intensity in the overtime period, and resorted to fouling after Pacheco took a 39-32 lead.
“It was, I don’t even know, it was just excitement,” Epperson said about overtime. “This is a wake-up call saying, ‘Let’s go right now. It’s game time.’ ”