Gavilan hangs with No. 12 Siskiyous

The Gavilan College men’s basketball team gave visiting College
of the Siskiyous all it could handle in a non-league game Wednesday
night but faltered in the waning minutes and lost 64-60.
GILROY – The Gavilan College men’s basketball team gave visiting College of the Siskiyous all it could handle in a non-league game Wednesday night but faltered in the waning minutes and lost 64-60.

The Rams (3-8) started the game in a 9-0 hole but quickly dug themselves out of it.

“Against a lot teams that 9-0 run would turn into a 15-0 or a 20-0,” said Gavilan coach Chris Shoemaker. “We did a good job of circling the wagons, battling back to cut it within two.”

It was a superior effort by the Rams, considering the College of the Sisiyous, at 11-3, was ranked No. 6 in Northern California and No. 12 in the state amoung junior colleges coming into the game.

Although the Eagles hit six 3-point baskets in the first half, they were up by just two points at halftime.

The Rams scored eight points in the final minute of the first half on a pair of rare 3’s by Cheston Turner, including one that beat the buzzer. Turner finished with 10 points.

“He’s not a guy that will take a lot of 3-point shots,” Shoemaker said. “All of our guys know that if they’re open and if it’s their shot, I want them to take it.”

Gavilan held two brief leads in the game. Both came on 3-point shots by the Rams’ leading scorer, Jimmy Herrera (21 points, 7-for-7 at the line).

One of Herrera’s 3’s gave Gavilan a 19-18 lead with 6:54 left in the first half and the other put the Rams up 44-41 with with 12 minutes to go in the game.

The Rams came out strong in the second half and immediately tied the score at 33 on a drive to the basket by Steve Silacci off of a nice feed from Herrera. Silacci finished with 12 points.

The Rams kept the score close until the last three minutes of the game. Maurice Davis had eight points for the Rams and Jody McAlpine had six.

“We made a concerted effort to get a hand up on their 3-point shooters, particularly on No. 10,” Shoemaker said.

That was Matt Benson, who was the game’s leading scrorer with 22 points, including four first-half 3-pointers.

“They hurt us a lot in the first half on flare screens,” Shoemaker added. “We did a better job defending the 3-point line, but we had to give something up. We didn’t contain the ball as well; consequently we put them on the line more.”

The Rams impressed Eagles head coach Ed Madec.

“They’re scrappy and they’re tough,” said Madec. “They’re a couple shots away from winning a few more games and having a better record. Their record is no indication of how tough they were. We barely squeezed it out with a 4-point lead.”

Shoemaker knew coming into the game that his squad would have to do the little things to stay in the game.

“We did a lot of little things, but we didn’t do enough to win, though,” he said. “In each half there were two or three possessions where we had a chance to make a play. Those came back to haunt us. In both halves, we had a two- or three-minute span where we allowed them to make little runs. I think it’s great for our kids because they’re finally understanding that we can play with anybody, We don’t have to score 100 every night. We can play games in the 60s and be pretty effective. We’re definitely getting better. If we continue to improve, we’ll be right there come January. We’ll be a tough draw for somebody. I would be very surprised if we’re not competitive in any of the games.”

Gavilan’s remaining preseason schedule doesn’t get any easier before league play starts in the third week of January. The Rams will compete in the Mendocino Tournament in Ukiah this weekend before facing De Anza at home Tuesday night as part of a doubleheader after the women’s game.

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