Gilroy hung around like a winter cold. Hollister, which had a
major height advantage and the much loftier record, couldn’t shake
the hungry Mustangs Wednesday night.
Gilroy hung around like a winter cold. Hollister, which had a major height advantage and the much loftier record, couldn’t shake the hungry Mustangs Wednesday night at Mattson Gym in a Tri-County Athletic League boys hoop meeting.

Call it an ugly win for the Balers, who finally prevailed 54-49. However, Hollister head coach David Kaplansky and his basically young team aren’t going to apologize for anything. A win is a win is a win. No style points needed here.

“It was your typical T-CAL game,” said Kaplansky. “Gilroy came here 0-6 and hung around. A lot of teams wouldn’t have done that. Give them credit.”

Much credit goes to Mustangs head coach Mike Baumgartner, one of the most underrated coaches in the Central Coast Section. Baumgartner had his club switch defenses nearly every time down, pressure the Balers out on the perimeter and swarm on the taller Balers in the paint like moms at a back-to-school sale. The Balers took advantage on the line with 18-of-27 shooting (67 per cent). Gilroy went to the line 16 times and made 11 (69 per cent). Baumgartner wasn’t thrilled with the disparity, nor enamored with the men in stripes, especially as the game’s critical seconds wound down.

“It was just their judgement,” said Baumgartner, an alum of Hollister, class of ’83. “I can’t believe in that melee towards the end of the game at our end and we didn’t get fouled.”

Before game summary dribbles on, the Balers (19-5, 5-2) now find themselves in second place by themselves after North Salinas knocked off visiting Live Oak 53-47. First place Salinas, showing its might, crushed host Palma like a sledge hammer would crush a snail, 66-32 – at Palma. The Balers host North Salinas on Friday.

“North Salinas has the best athletes in the league,” said Kaplansky. “Carl Nicks, 6-foot-8, is a Division I player. It will be a great game.”

The Mustangs (6-14, 0-7) and Balers didn’t collaborate for what would be deemed a ‘great game’ Wednesday. It was more like ‘doable’ as far as the Balers were concerned and certainly much closer than the they would have liked. In front of a hearty crowd, Gilroy’s Daniel Vadillo drained a trey from the top of the key and the taffy pull was on. Vadillo, a senior, would continue to be a pest with four three-pointers, 4-for-4 free throw shooting for a team-high 16 points.

The Balers, fighting through some sloppiness with six of their 16 turnovers in the first period, had the benefit of an active Anthony Butler early. Butler grabbed five early boards and scored six of his 14 points in the first eight minutes.

Baler star Kyle Sharp, who had just a bucket in the first period, came to life in the second quarter. Sharp, who led all scorers with 20 points to go with a game-high 13 rebounds, hit a long deuce for 22-18. Later in the half, Sharp drove to the lane for a basket and the Balers were up 26-20.

The Balers extended out to their biggest lead of the night at 36-29 on a drive by Broc Sondgroth as the game got rough late in the third period. Baumgartner called timeout at the 2:03 mark and the momentum went back to the Mustangs. Brandt Chacon hit a three, then Ron Colmon stole the ball and finished with four seconds left in the period and it was 37-36 Balers entering the fourth quarter.

The tempo picked up in the fourth and so did the fouls. Each team had an intentional foul down the stretch. One is a rarity. Sondgroth hit two technical free throws with :54.9 left to play and the Balers held a lead of 51-47. Tucker Baksa’s layin with 35 second left closed the gap to two. Sondgroth responded with two more free throws, then Sharp hit the front end with 15 seconds to go and the game was done. For the period, Hollister was 9-of-15 from the free throw line.

“I like the way Hollister plays,” said Baumgartner. “They play a good brand of basketball. Sharp is intelligent. He doesn’t make mental mistakes and has good shot selection.”

Kaplansky, for his part, was ecstatic of the play of Baler forward Danny Brooks, who had 10 points and about six rebounds. He also hit two pressure free throws late in that fourth period.

“Danny was the difference in the game,” said Kaplansky. “He held their top scorer, (Erik)Tollison, to five points. Butler got after it, too. He did a great job.”

Baler bits: Butler ended up with 11 rebounds. – The Mustangs had just eight turnovers. – From beyond the arc, the Balers were 0-7, while the Mustangs were 6-of-15. – Vince Mitre fouled out for Gilroy. – Junior forward Kevin Zanella came off the bench and played well for the Balers under the boards. – Gilroy’s bench outscored Hollister’s 20-2. – Salinas is at Live Oak on Friday, while Palma is at Gilroy. – Remaining dates for the Balers: at Salinas next Wednesday and home vs. Palma on Feb. 21. – The CCS seeding meeting is Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. in San Jose.

JV score: Gilroy 42, Hollister 35. Josh Lemos and Abraham Baladad each had 10 points for the Balers (9-12).

Frosh score: Despite three three-pointers from Vince Bautista, the Baler frosh fell to Gilroy 48-37.

Gilroy 12 9 15 15 – 49

Hollister 12 14 11 17 – 54

G – Baksa 2 0-0 4, Vadillo 4 4-4 16, Tollison 2 1-2 5, Loving 1 2-4 4, Chacon 1 2-2 5, Colmon 3 2-4 9, Gravell 1 0-0 2, Worthen 2 0-0 4. Totals 16 11-16 49.

H – Sharp 7 6-10 20, Butler 6 2-5 14, Sondgroth 2 4-4 8, Brooks 3 4-4 10, Zanella 0 2-4 2. Totals 18 18-27 54.

3-point goals: Vadillo 4, Chacon, Colmon (G).

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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