The game started fairly evenly with Imperial taking the tip and scoring on a Ratliff layup and free throw. The Hornets took the lead for the rest of the game after Eric Somers dished off to Garcia for a score, putting Calipatria up 4-3.
Then Calipatria went on an 11-4 run that ate up most of the first quarter, but the Tigers pulled things a little closer before the period ended with two Naylor free throws with 10 seconds remaining and a Ratliff buzzer-beating lay-up as time expired.
The second quarter began with the Hornets leading 15-11 and didn't end any closer as Calipatria hit three consecutive three-point buckets. The first came just 25 seconds into the period when Somers stepped up, fired and hit nothing but the net.
The Hornets could have extended their lead further but they continued to struggle from the line, missing all six free throws in the period. The Tigers were one of three from the line in the quarter .
The first half ended with the Hornets leading 28-18 when Naylor missed a free throw.
In the third period Calipatria extended its lead again thanks to good defense. The Hornets grabbed four boards and five steals in the period to shut down Imperial's offense.
The quarter ended with the Tigers trailing 41-28.
Imperial's offense picked things up in the fourth quarter, but so did Calipatria's. The Hornets didn't let the Tigers have even a glimpse of a break as Calipatria scored 19 points to Imperial's 16.
When the Hornets were sure of victory with 1:51 on the clock, Garcia came out of the game to cheers from the vocal Calipatria crowd.
A few free throws later, the clock expired.
"It was a big win," said Romero. "You always want to get the first league game under your belt."
The Hornets (12-8, 1-0 Desert League) travel to Holtville for a 7 p.m. game Tuesday and the Tigers (0-1 Desert League) host Vincent Memorial at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
Calexico 64, Central 57
Behind a 20-point effort from Rene Bucio, the Calexico High boys basketball team downed Central Union High 64-57 in Imperial Valley League action in El Centro on Friday.
Diego Lopez added 13 points for the Bulldogs.
Leading the Spartans were Vincent McFee with 19 points and Jose Galindo with 17.
Calexico (2-1 IVL) hosts Palo Verde at 7 p.m. Tuesday. Central (1-3 IVL) will play at cross-town rival Southwest at 7 p.m. Friday.
Brawley 78, Palo Verde 60
BRAWLEY — The Brawley Union High boys basketball team had little trouble getting past Palo Verde, winning 78-60 in Imperial Valley League action here Friday.
Heading the charge for the Wildcats were Lafayette Lofton with 26 points and Mark Rivera with 21.
Brawley (3-0 IVL) travels to El Centro to take on Southwest at 7 p.m. Tuesday.