Hoops: Balers win ninth in a row

San Benito's R.J. Collins has played a vital role in the team's 6-1 start.

Through 20 games, the San Benito boys basketball team has proven to be the best team in the Monterey Bay League’s Gabilan Division. And in Hollister on Wednesday, the Balers showed exactly why.

San Benito won its ninth consecutive game Wednesday, beating Salinas 62-36 in a blow out victory that was never close.

The consistent Balers scored at least 15 points in every quarter, while the Cowboys could only muster 11 points at best. The victory improves the Balers’ record to 18-2 and 9-0 in league play. The victory was SBHS head coach’s David Kaplansky’s 200th combined win, with tenures on the girls and boys hoops teams.

“The guys played well,” he said. “I was real proud of their effort tonight. The defense has been great in both games against Salinas. They have been real physical games so I’m real proud of the guys tonight. We were rolling guys in and everyone contributed. We are trying to keep our momentum right now. It’s important to us right now.”

And the Balers got rolling early in the first quarter. Behind eight points in the quarter from Michael Breen, who finished with 11, the Balers built a 21-11 lead. Breen started the game well on both ends of the court, forcing two early turnovers.

As a team, San Benito only committed seven turnovers throughout the night, as their offense controlled the game’s tempo. Once Breen cooled off in the second quarter, Jacob Tonascia started to make his mark.

Playing in only three full quarters – the Balers inserted their second string in the final eight minutes – Tonascia scored 20 points, as the Cowboys found no solution for him.

“It was a fun game,” he said. “We really got on them early and didn’t get off. Everyone was scoring and we were playing really well together and that’s what led to the win.”

The Baler finished with 10 scorers in the victory. With the win, San Benito strengthened its positioning over the league. Brian Becerra added seven points while R.J. Collins and Robert Henderson added six points off the bench.

“It means a lot,” Tonascia said. “We were getting beat up the last couple of years. Our last league championship was 10 years ago. To finally take it to them – you know, we are working hard in practice and not taking any plays off and keep working hard.”

With the victory, the Balers remain one game ahead of Seaside, which beat Monterey 68-46 despite trailing for most of the game.

The Balers are only worrying about themselves, Kaplansky said.

“We are not counting wins right now,” he said. “These teams are too good. We can’t look ahead. Enjoy the win tonight and keep playing day to day.”

San Benito hosts Christopher at 7 p.m. Friday.

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