Basketball: Balers look to end season on positive note

Balers guard Davonte Butler has had a solid season.

It was a snapshot and glimpse into what might have been. For the second year in a row, the San Benito High boys basketball team has been plagued by injuries and other issues that have cost them a chance for a top-tier finish in league and a Central Coast Section playoff berth.
But in a 68-65 win over Monterey on Feb. 10, the Haybalers showed flashes of their potential—and it was impressive. Shraee Harrison had 26 points, Josh Ramos 12 and R.J. Clark nine for the Balers (4-17 overall, 2-9 in league), who play their season-finale against Monte Vista Christian on Friday.
“We’ve been piece mealing it the whole season,” Balers coach Mike Baumgartner said. “It was hard to get into any kind of rhythm.”
San Benito has suffered injuries to key players, including Harrison, Grant Bernosky and Diego Garcia. But against Monterey, the Balers were close to full strength. San Benito trailed by two with 20 seconds to go when Monterey missed a layup before committing a foul that led to two R.J. Clark free throws.
Clark and Davonte Butler then created a turnover that led to a Harrison layup with 10 seconds remaining. Monterey missed its next shot, and Zamora converted a free throw with 2 seconds left to seal the outcome. It was an emotional scene afterward, as players shared a moment of celebration that was a long time coming.
“All the kids ran into the locker room, and coach (assistant coach Dan Quinn) and I could hear them yelling and screaming,” Baumgartner said. “We both looked at each other and said, ‘That’s how it’s supposed to be.’ We’ve had some really tough losses, and they deserved that win. It’s tough when the kids work hard and don’t see the end result. This time, they got the result they wanted.”
The game was a microcosm of the team’s season. At times, the Balers played sloppy, didn’t rebound and lacked cohesion. Other times, they ran their offense with precision, played tough defense and rebounded with authority.
“This was the first time in which we really scored within our offense,” Baumgartner said. “We started getting easy buckets, and executing when we were supposed to.”
Harrison was a force on both ends of the floor, as he scored at will at times and played tough defense.
“Shraee was a beast on the defensive end and on the boards,” Baumgartner said. “He was at his best, and it was fun to watch.”
Zamora, a 6-foot-2 senior post, has been an unsung standout. Zamora possesses a solid jump shot, and he has been a force on the glass.
“He has one of the best mid-range jump shots in the league,” Baumgartner said. “He rebounds well and has hit some key shots for us lately. Jacob is not an overly intense guy outwardly, but you know deep inside he is a fierce kid who fights and works hard. He’s a joy to have on our squad, and he rarely says anything. But when he does, we listen.”
After the thrilling win over Monterey, the Balers dropped a 46-45 heartbreaker to Salinas. Now they’ll look to end their season on a positive note against a tough Monte Vista Christian team that is second in the Gabilan Division. MVC drubbed the Balers in the teams’ first meeting, 66-33, on Jan. 27.
“We want to be able to finish the season strong so the guys can go into the off-season knowing things started to come together,” Baumgartner said. “It’ll give them confidence for next year, and we want to send the seniors off on a high note.”

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