OAKDALE -- David Villareal and his Hughson High teammates have spent plenty of long afternoons in the gym, shooting free throws until coach Ron Michael is happy with what he sees.
"He's always telling us that free throws are a big part of the game," Villareal said. "The good thing is that when we shoot them in a game, we're usually pretty relaxed."
Even when the game is on the line, as it was Saturday night in the final of the 38th Oakdale Rotary Holiday Classic.
The Huskies went 6-for-6 from the line in the final 23 seconds to seal a 45-40 victory over Patterson and take home the championship. Hughson had upset two large schools, Oakdale and Davis, to reach the title game.
Neither of those games came down to the final minute, however.
Hughson trailed 40-37 with 1:59 left after Patterson's Daniel Reza hit a layup, but the Huskies made it a one-point game when Zach Adams hit an inside shot with 1:33 left.
Patterson had a fast break with 25 seconds remaining, but Robert Kreger tried one too many passes instead of taking the layup, and turned the ball over. The Tigers then fouled Adams, who hit two free throws for a 41-40 lead.
Patterson point guard Justin Nuckolls was then called for palming the ball on his dribble, and coach Tony Lomeli was whistled for a technical when he argued the call. Hughson's Ken Sullivan hit two free throws to make it 43-40, then when Patterson was forced to foul to get the ball back, Villareal hit two more free throws to clinch it.
"We were pretty calm at the line," said Villareal, who along with Adams had 11 points. "That comes from all the practice we get."
Hughson finished 21 of 25 from the line, while Patterson was 9 of 20 -- and missed all three of its fourth-quarter free throws,
Hughson had led 16-10 with 6:50 left in the first half before Patterson began pressuring the ball with a 2-3 trapping zone to force the Huskies into mistakes. The Tigers used an 8-2 run, climaxed by E.J. Rodriguez's 3-pointer, to tie it at 18 at halftime.
DAVIS 75, ENOCHS 61 -- Jordan Dickson (16 points) converted a rare seven-point play with 7 seconds left in the first half and Jose Blanco scored 23 points to send the Spartans (7-3) to victory in the third-place game.
Dickson hit a 3-point shot to make it 35-27 and was knocked to the floor after the ball went through the hoop, for a two-shot foul. Enochs coach Wayne McGhee drew a technical for arguing the call, adding two more free throws, and Dickson hit all four charity shots for a 39-27 lead.
Blanco had 10 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Enochs hit 12 3-pointers, including four by Tyler Wasden (14 points), but was unable to do much damage inside despite its height advantage.
ESCALON 44, RIPON CHR. 36 -- James Harrison scored all 10 of his points in the first half, helping the Cougars (2-9) to a 22-19 halftime lead and a victory in the seventh-place game. Teammate Doyle Niu (12 points) handled the scoring in the second half.
LOS BANOS 40, JOHANSEN 39 -- The Tigers (11-5) trailed 22-8 after a quarter, but rallied behind Rubal Sangha (16 points) to go 3-0 in the losers' bracket and win the round-robin title. Sangha scored seven in the third quarter, when Los Banos used a 13-4 run to grab a 36-34 lead. Adam Rodriguez scored six in the first quarter to get Johansen (6-6) out to its early lead, but Los Banos shut him out the rest of the way.
RIVERBANK 31, CALAVERAS 26 -- Chris Mitchell had 11 points and the Bruins (4-9) used tight defense to limit the Redskins to their lowest output of the season in a round-robin losers' bracket game. Calaveras (5-6) scored six points or less in three of the four quarters.