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Bulldogs hold off Hornets

December 15, 2001|By ERIC GALVAN, Sports Writer

CALEXICO — On paper, the Calipatria and Calexico high schools' boys basketball game here Friday should have been no contest.

Calexico is one of the biggest schools in the Valley from an enrollment standpoint and plays in Division I. Calipatria is the second-smallest and a Division IV school. The game looked like a typical David versus Goliath contest.

Even until the final shot, Calipatria proved size didn't matter and took Calexico to the wire, losing 36-34.

"No matter who we play, I feel that we always have a chance. Them being a bigger school than us doesn't really mean anything out there," said Calipatria coach Robert Romero. "Looking at this game, I think we still need to work on running our offense, boxing out and just being smarter on the court.

"Calexico did a really good job of outrebounding us and because of that, they were able to get second shots. So that made a big difference," said Romero. "Over the last five games, we've been in a bit of a slump. If you're scoring under 40 points a game, you're not going to get many wins. We play them again later in the season and I think we'll be a much better team by then. But at the same time, they'll also be more improved, so I'm looking forward to that."

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With the revamped Imperial Valley League, the Hornets will take on the Bulldogs on Feb. 5 in Calipatria.

As the score might indicate, the contest was a barn-burner, going down to the final shot.

Looking at a two-point lead, following a jumper by the Hornets' Ezequiel Navarro with 5 seconds left in the game, all Calexico had to do was inbound the ball and milk the clock. But the Bulldogs couldn't inbound the ball in time and a 5-second infraction was called, giving the Hornets one last shot.

After inbounding the ball, Navarro went for the game-winner, taking a three-pointer that clanked off the rim, giving Calexico the game.

"That was a really tight game. Everyone was on their toes on that last shot," said Bulldog center Adrian Maldonado, who finished with 17 rebounds, eight blocks and eight points. "I don't know what happened this game, but we just weren't playing the way we know how. We just weren't ourselves. This was a sloppy win for us, but we'll still take it."

What may have affected both sides was that they had to play with replacement referees. The refs scheduled to call the game didn't show up, forcing current Calexico athletic director Ray Alvarado and former Bulldog baseball coach Sergio Rubio to referee. Both have basketball refereeing experience and both sides agreed to allow them to call the game.

Both sides battled and played tight throughout. Through most of the first quarter, all of the second and most of the third, the Hornets had the upperhand and had leads of four points on four occasions and led by five at one point.

Calexico made a run late in the third, outscoring the visitors 8-2 to take a 26-23 lead into the fourth. The Bulldogs had a six-point advantage with 4 minutes, 10 seconds remaining in the game, but allowed the Hornets to score six straight to tie the game.

Calexico then put together a 5-1 spurt to take a four-point lead with 16 seconds remaining. That's when Navarro cut the deficit to two and then missed the would-be game-winner.

"They are a very good team. They're very quick and very well-coached. They showed tremendous intensity and played a really good game," said Calexico coach Ernesto Valenzuela of Calipatria. "I don't think either of us shot really well tonight and they never really let us get into our offense.

"We needed to be patient and take what the defense gave us. But Calipat put excellent pressure on us and played very good defense," said Valenzuela.

Alex Marin finished with 16 rebounds and Chris Johnson added six points for the Bulldogs.

Navarro led all scorers with 15 points and Vontray Taylor added eight for the Hornets.

Calipatria (3-3 overall) will play Monday at the Bullhead City tournament and Calexico (2-1) will next play Wednesday at the Kiwanis tournament in San Diego.

Imperial at Cibola tournament

YUMA — The Imperial High boys basketball team kicked off play in the Cibola tournament here Friday, splitting its first two games.

Imperial lost its first game 79-30 to Centennial of Las Vegas. Leading the Tigers in the loss were Tyler Jensen with 10 points and Marwan Ratliff with seven.

Imperial bounced back in game two, thrashing San Pasqual 81-34. Matt Taylor scored 17 to lead the Tigers followed by Gabe Villagomez with 15, David Diaz with 11 and Danny Jones with 10 points.

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