Haybalers win TCAL opener, beat Salinas

Tyler Ruiz scores 19, Brian Haggett 16 as San Benito defeats
Salinas 58-54
Salinas – Tyler Ruiz had 19 points and Brian Haggett added 16 as the San Benito boys basketball team won their Tri-County Athletic League opener Tuesday, defeating host Salinas 58-54.

The Haybalers seemingly had the game in control in the fourth quarter, but the Cowboys made it interesting late. Nonetheless, San Benito hit 5 of 9 free throws down the stretch, 10 of 16 for the game, to keep Salinas at bay in the final stanza.

“I thought we had the game put away, and we made some turnovers,” coach John Becerra said. “But we kept playing hard. We made some free throws … but it was close.

“You always want to win the first game in the league. It was a big game. They’re (Salinas) improving and they’re a good team.”

Salinas recently took first place at the Condor Christmas Classic in Castroville over the holiday break, a tournament San Benito finished third in.

Said Becerra, “To go into their gym and win is a big one.”

The ‘Balers got a boost from Ruiz, whose 19 second-half points kept San Benito in the game in the third quarter. The scoring surge was a positive sign for San Benito and Ruiz, who was out of the lineup earlier this season with a foot injury.

Becerra described one play in the fourth quarter when Ruiz pulled down an offensive rebound off a missed free throw. The play resulted in a Salinas foul, and put San Benito back on the charity stripe.

“We got a little lackadaisical with our passing and we lost a little focus,” Becerra said of the fourth quarter. “But the bottom line is we persevered and won.”

San Benito is now 1-0 in the TCAL, 11-5 overall. They’ll host Palma (1-0, 8-6) on Thursday, a team that is considered to be at the top of the TCAL this season. The Chieftains defeated Gilroy 58-38 Tuesday.

Tip-off is at 7 p.m.

SB (58) – Canchola 0 1 0 3, Von Urff 1 0 0 2, Bueno 2 0 3 7, Haggett 5 1 3 16, Taylor 1 0 1 3, Burley 2 0 2 6, Zanella 1 0 0 2, Ruiz 9 0 1 19.

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