State

Another star steps up for Livingston

HILMAR — In his 28 years as the Livingston High boys basketball coach, Angelo Naldi said he's never had a team with the weapons his current squad can boast.

In the Wolves' Western Athletic Conference opener against Hilmar on Tuesday night, yet another Livingston player had a career night.

Junior swingman Gurpreet Sangha poured in 29 points — 21 of them coming in the first half — as the Wolves rolled to a 69-52 victory over the host Yellowjackets.

"This is a good, cohesive group," Naldi said. "They play well together and do a great job getting the ball to the hot hand."

Against Hilmar, that hot player was Sangha.

He made a 3-pointer to open the game's scoring and added a layup and two more 3-pointers, scoring 11 of the Wolves' first 13 points.

When Sangha wasn't shooting, the Wolves went inside to 6-foot-5-inch center Harnarinder Johal for points.

"The teams we're playing have to take care of (Johal) in the middle first," Naldi said. "And that usually leaves somebody open from the outside. Very early, we started telling our players to get the ball to (Sangha)."

Sangha stayed hot through the second quarter, boosting his output to 21 points as Livingston opened up a 43-23 halftime lead.

"One of our guys is always on," Sangha said.

Tuesday, it was Sangha's turn.

"I was just waiting for my teammates to get me the ball," he said.

The Wolves (11-3, 1-0) figure to be one of the WAC's top contenders, although five of its six teams had at least nine wins during the preseason. Hilmar (9-4, 0-1) saw its five-game win streak snapped.

"Sangha couldn't miss a shot," Hilmar coach Danny Freitas said. "And we had good looks on the other end, but they weren't falling."

The Yellowjackets offense is based on the 3-pointer, and they missed their first seven before Noel Zaldana connected four minutes in.

But one quarter later, the Wolves took a commanding lead thanks to a 17-3 run during a four-minute span. Sangha and Johal combined for 11 of those points.

"He was a man on fire tonight," Naldi said.

Earlier this season, Johal's gone for 46 points. Point guard has Brian Rivera scored 36 in a game as well.

"It just makes us more dangerous, everybody who can score," Naldi said.

The Wolves will need it in what promises to be an exciting WAC race.

"Any given night, any team can win in the WAC," Naldi said. "It's going to be a fun league."

Tuesday's game was a fun one for the Wolves, while Hilmar has to regroup.

"It's just one game," Freitas said. "We have to move on and get ready for Gustine on Friday."

Bee staff writer Will DeBoard can be reached at wdeboard@modbee.com or 578-2300.

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