Prep Basketball: Balers hold off Cougars in 45-33 win

Christopher's Josh Wheat drives into the basket as Aptos works to block during their game Thursday in the first round of the 34th Annual Bob Hagen Memorial Tournament at Gilroy High School.

GILROY — For three quarters in last Friday’s game, the Christopher High boys’ basketball team put itself in a position to pull off the upset over San Benito.
The Cougars trailed by just one point entering the fourth quarter and the momentum seemed to be in their favor — but the Haybalers quickly put an end to that.
San Benito outscored Christopher 14-3 in the final eight minutes in pulling away for a 45-33 Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division victory. In the teams’ first league contest on Jan. 15, San Benito (19-2 overall, 8-1 MBL Gabilan) beat Christopher, 65-47.
“I really liked the way we finished the game,” Balers coach David Kaplansky said. “I thought our fourth quarter ball control, the way we handled the ball, we didn’t take bad shots. We used the clock to our advantage and capitalized. I was just real proud how we finished.”
After trailing by 10 points early in the third, the Cougars (8-12, 1-7) found their rhythm, connecting on swing passes that had previously resulted in turnovers.
It wasn’t just one player who took the burden of scoring as six CHS players — Evan Shapiro, Shane Suttles, Dillon Day, Zander Bowers, Miika Smith and Josh Wheat — found the net in that quarter to close the gap at 31-30.
Kaplansky rallied his players and told them they needed to find their way to the basket instead of settling for perimeter shots. That adjustment seemed to rattle the Cougars, resulting in a slew of offensive turnovers.
“(I told our players) not to let up,” Cougars coach Eric David said. “We’ve had a rough stretch through league right now and being down four at (the) half (20-16) to a team in first place, it’s not good enough. We needed to put another half together.
“In the third quarter, we battled back. In the fourth, we kind of ran out of gas and they picked it up and put that run together. We were just having trouble scoring the ball.”
The Balers’ Robbie Skinner had a game-high 15 points in addition to three steals. Teammate Hyram Miskin led the defensive stance with seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals in addition to 11 points.
“We’ve been doing a good job all year playing defense,” Kaplansky said. “We’ve been playing a lot more straight up, good ball pressure. Tonight we really extended our pressure. I felt like we had an advantage in the back court. … They closed the gap. This is a tough place to play and they’re a heck of a team. That really showed the resilience of our team in a situation like that where they cut it so close and the game could swing either way.”
Wheat led the Cougars with 10 points, including three 3-pointers. Suttles scored eight points in addition to six rebounds and two steals.
“All week coach was just getting on us that we had to come out and play hard. From the beginning we came out just doing our best,” Wheat said.
The first-place Balers (19-2 overall, 8-1 in league) will be back in action at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Seaside.
Christopher will look to rebound with a 7 p.m. contest against Seaside Wednesday at home.

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