San Benito shoots 50 percent from the field, scores biggest win
of early season with 62-61 victory at Monterey
Following a missed free throw by Monterey in the fourth quarter, one that would have tied the game at 50-all, San Benito’s Dominic Zanella fell to the floor for the rebound.
From his back, then rolling around on his stomach, Zanella scraped and clawed and muscled his way for the loose ball, eventually earning a jump-ball possession in what turned out to be a bit of a microcosm for the Haybalers on Tuesday.
“This was one of the hardest teams we’ve played,” said Zanella, who scored 13 points Tuesday, nine of which came in the second half.
In a game that took every ounce of every player, San Benito (6-4) fought tooth and nail Tuesday night and pulled out a 62-61 upset victory over Monterey (9-3), in what is easily the team’s biggest win of the season so far.
“Great game. They played outstanding,” San Benito head coach John Becerra said. “They hustled and they finally put it all together – the intensity, the aggressiveness. Today, it showed.”
Despite committing 20 turnovers in the game – many of which occurred when San Benito tried to force passes in the paint – the ‘Balers shot 50 percent (22 of 44) from the field and connected on five 3-pointers.
Jason Canchola led San Benito with 15 points, and supplied the ‘Balers with just enough of an advantage late in the game.
Up 59-56 with 33.9 seconds remaining, the senior guard went to the free throw line but missed both of his attempts. After Monterey leading scorer Daryl Thomas missed a contested 3-point shot at the other end, though, Canchola had a second chance from the line to put the game out of reach.
“Just make the next ones,” Canchola said afterward. “I was hoping we we’re gonna get the ball back so we could try it again.”
Blessed with another opportunity, Canchola sunk 3 of 4 from the charity stripe in the final 20 seconds, and San Benito built a 62-56 lead with 9.5 ticks left in regulation.
But Thomas, who finished with 22 points, managed to keep the game interesting. After Monterey pulled to within four points, the 5-foot-10 guard stole the ensuing inbounds pass and nailed a 3-pointer with six-tenths of a second remaining.
But the rally was too little, too late for the Toreadors, which may have run out of last-second heroics after their 95-93 triple-overtime victory against Salinas last Saturday.
“It was a straight man-to-man (defense),” Becerra said, “and we just tried to control [Thomas].
“It’s a big boost as far as how we learn to play the game. It’s kind of the atmosphere and intensity that we need to have every single game, not just once in a while. If we play like this, we’re good.”
The ‘Balers held a 13-10 lead after the first quarter, and built a 21-13 margin at the start of the second. But seven turnovers in that quarter alone allowed Monterey to come right back into the game, and the Toreadors finished the half on an 18-7 run and held a 31-28 lead at halftime.
Monterey, which had frequent second- and third-chance opportunities all game, took 18 more shots than San Benito but were just 34 percent (21 of 62) from the field, including a 9 of 30 performance in the third and fourth quarters alone.
And they left the door open in the second half for San Benito, which started the third quarter on a 12-3 run after Monterey missed their first 11 field goal attempts.
After Canchola hit a trey in the first minute of the third quarter, supplying San Benito with a 33-31 edge, Monterey would stay close for the remainder of the contest but would be unable to reclaim the lead.
“We stepped up and started shutting them down,” Zanella said. San Benito led 48-45 through three quarters of play.
‘Baler Eric Elayda had 13 points behind 5 of 9 shooting Tuesday, while Kyle Vallejo added 10 points on 4 of 8 shooting.
San Benito, winners of three straight games, will be off until next Monday when they will open the first round of the Condor Christmas Classic against Carmel.
Tip-off is at 6:30 p.m., at North Monterey County in Castroville.
San Benito shot 13 of 20 from the free throw line … Monterey was 16 of 25 from free throw line … The Toreadors committed nine turnovers … San Benito was 8 of 9 from the field in the third quarter.
TEAM 1 2 3 4 F
SANB 13 15 20 14 62
MONT 10 21 14 16 61
San Benito (62) – Canchola 4-8 5-8 15, Corral 0-0 1-2 1, Elayda 5-9 1-2 13, Rickard 3-8 2-2 8, Von Urff 1-2 0-0 2, Vallejo 4-8 1-2 10, Zanella 5-9 3-4 13.
Three-point goals – Canchola 2, Elayda 2, Vallejo 1.