The Central Valley basketball team stayed tied with Patterson for second place in the Western Athletic Conference with Wednesday’s 73-60 victory over the league’s basement-dwelling Los Banos, but the Tigers made the Hawks work for it.
After Central Valley mounted a 44-29 halftime lead, Los Banos went on a 14-4 run to close the gap to 48-44.
“You have to give them credit, they played well, they didn’t give up,” Central Valley coach Darryl Dickson said. “They could have given up, but they fought for it, and we just played harder than them. We were kind of lackadaisical on our rotations, so I called a time out and said, ‘Hey, we’ve got to kick in and play like we’re capable of.’ So I went from a straight man to a little bit of a trap, and we got a few turnovers off of that, which helped get our flow back.”
Los Banos’ J.T. Barcellos and Central Valley’s Deavon Brown traded 3-pointers in the first half, each draining four before the break. Brevin Welch added a pair for the Tigers, and had a pair in the second half as well.
“Los Banos shot exceptionally well in the first half. I think Barcellos hit four or five threes,” Dickson said. “We knew coming in he could shoot, and our job was to take him out, we call it our face defense, and he was still able to get good shots, so that’s a credit to him and the plays that they run to get him open.
“We can shoot as well. We have three guys who can shoot well from the outside, so we were able to hit a few as well. Deavon Brown did a good job, he kind of matched, I think he had three or four in the first half, which helped us offset Barcellos. Even though we don’t want to give up four, at least we were able to neutralize that.”
Barcellos, however, went scoreless in the second half. CV finished with nine 3-pointers (six by Brown) and LB finished with eight (four each by Barcellos and Welch).
One big difference in the game came in the form of Central Valley’s Kendall Johnson, who finished with 14 rebounds, helping the Hawks out-board the Tigers 42-22. Though Johnson stands just six feet tall, the senior jumps like his shoes are equipped with Wile E. Coyote springs ordered out of the ACME catalog. Post player Ryan Donnelly pitched in with 11 boards.
“We played them good, and that’s a team with two or three scholarship athletes, you know,” Los Banos coach Mike Bonillas said. “Brown has a scholarship to Stanislaus already, and he’s going to be my vote for MVP of the league, because he’s pretty good. I was talking to coach Jenkins, Tyrell, over at Pacheco, and from what I’ve seen, he’s pretty good, dude. Biggest thing I like about him is he’s no flash. A straight hoop game, and that’s it. He doesn’t talk, he just gets buckets and rebounds, and plays D, grinds and runs the floor. None of the other stuff.
“They had a kid transfer from Modesto Christian, and they have the coach’s son (Jaron Dickson), who’s played varsity for three years, so they’ve got a good team. I just think a couple of things went our way differently, and we would have been in it. But that’s 80 percent of our games this year. Close doesn’t matter. You’ve got to be able to finish.”
With CV trapping on the perimeter more, the Tigers attacked the rim more consistently in the second half, but by the time Donnelly fouled out for CV with 2:58 remaining, the Hawks held a comfortable 71-55 lead.
“We should have been attacking the basket a little earlier in the first half, but I thought we executed a little better,” Bonillas said. “I thought Daniel did a good job executing. Brevin played really well.”
The Tigers played much more energetically than in Friday’s 71-28 loss to league-leading Central Catholic. Only one LB players made double digits in that one, with guard Daniel Aguirre scoring 10. And again, the Tigers were out-rebounded by about double – 43-19.