Boys Basketball: Christopher pulls away from Balers

The Balers' Diego Garcia, seen here in earlier action this season, had 14 points in the Balers' 67-60 loss to Christopher on Wednesday.

HOLLISTER—The Christopher and San Benito boys basketball teams came into Wednesday’s game with one objective—to earn their first Monterey Bay League Gabilan Division victory. It was the Cougars who left Mattson Gym happy, coming away with a 67-60 win.
Christopher (8-5 overall, 1-1 league) coach Dan Mooney was plenty excited about his team’s play.
“We did some good things down the stretch, and I’m really proud of them,” he said. “I’m very, very pleased in how they played tonight.”
The Cougars took a one-point lead into halftime before opening up the third quarter with a mini 4-0 run. They extended their lead to as many as seven points and never were seriously threatened until the final minutes of the game, when the host Haybalers (1-11, 0-3) got to within three points, 62-59, on a Josh Ramos layup with 1:01 remaining.
However, the Balers missed their next two shots while the Cougars received two free throws from Alec Cordova to make it 64-59 with 28 seconds left, essentially icing the game. Mooney praised the play of Cordova, who displayed excellent floor presence playing point guard.
“We made a real big change tonight with Alec moving him from shooting guard to the point,” Mooney said. “Alec usually scores 17, 18 points per game, and now we want him to control the ball. That’s a tough transition, but he’s that good. To have him step up in that position, I can’t say enough about him.”
Mooney said he made the change to mix things up in anticipation of the postseason, which is still a month away.
“You start playing with things to see what the team can do in different situations and different spots,” he said.
While the Cougars are already looking forward to the postseason, the Balers are simply looking to earn another win, which has been hard to come by for the second straight season. San Benito showed flashes of potential, but couldn’t put things together in the end, a recurring theme of its season.
The Balers received strong performances from R.J. Clark and Diego Garcia, who combined for 30 points. Clark had a season-high 16, most coming off a number of strong drives to the basket. Garcia also had success getting to the basket before fouling out with a couple of minutes left in the contest.
Davonte Butler finished with nine points for the Balers, who were without the services of their best player, Shraee Harrison, due to injury. The Balers committed 21 turnovers that Christopher converted into 12 fast-break points. The Cougars only had 10 turnovers, well below the high school average.
San Benito couldn’t contain Christopher’s Xander Bowers, who had a decisive size advantage in the paint. Bowers scored 14 of his team-high 18 points in the second half, often by establishing position deep in the paint. Cordova had 15 points, Thomas Ellis 13, Brevin Zollinger 10 and Chris Burnett had nine for the Cougars, who were coming off a 71-63 loss to Monte Vista Christian in their league opener.

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