BASKETBALL: Cougars downed in league opener against Watsonville

TENNIS: Alisal sweeps doubles play in 5-2 win over Christopher

Watsonville, the defending Monterey Bay League boys basketball champion, reached 2-0 in league action Friday by handing the host Christopher High Cougars a 65-53 setback. The Cougars, 0-1 in MBL play and 4-9 overall, visit Seaside Tuesday before hosting Pajaro Valley on Thursday.
Trailing by 15 points with 2:32 left in the third period, the Cougars rallied to within three points of the Wildcatz midway through the fourth period.
“We had an opportunity to take the momentum early in the second half,” Cougar coach Kaden Bahner said. “We made seven stops in a row to keep Watsonville scoreless, but we hurt ourselves with some missed shots and turnovers. I was proud of our defense, but we need to reward ourselves and make some shots.”
Watsonville carried a 32-25 lead into halftime, then scored the first points of the third period on a Lamar Cowens 3-point field goal with 4:14 left in the period.
After the Wildcatz moved to a 15-point bulge, 42-27, on a Justin Carrancho 3-pointer with 2:32 left in the third, Christopher regrouped to trail 44-34 entering the fourth period.
“I’m proud of our effort – we didn’t quit,” noted Bahner about the fourth period frenzy.
After a Carrancho layup put Watsonville up 48-39 with 5:45 left in the game, the Cougars put up the next six points.
Andrew Foster made 1-of-2 free throws, then Nick Cordova ignited the team and the crowd with a long 3-pointer off an offensive rebound. Fifteen seconds later, Cordova pulled down a defensive rebound and went the length of the court to make a slashing layup to leave the Cougars down, 48-45.
Christopher lost two of the top front-liners to fouls, Dillon Babb and Takoda Bowers, in the moments surrounding the Cordova buckets.
“That was our big presence inside,” Bahner said of the loss of the two forwards. Babb and Bowers combined for five blocked shots while helping to ward off the presence of 6-foot-7 center Ivo Basor. Averaging 20 points and 20 rebounds per game, Basor finished the game with 19 points and 15 boards.
“He’s one of the better big guys we’ll see in league,” Bahner said.
With both Babb and Bowers on the bench, the Cougars succumbed to a 13-4 Wildcat run for a 61-49 cushion with 1:44 to play.
“Watsonville is very good, but it’s a team we can compete with,” added Bahner.
Cordova paced Christopher with 15 points. Wyatt Rocheleau and Dillon Day added 11 points apiece.
Day, a freshman, was called up from the junior varsity Friday because a roster spot was open, Bahner noted. “He earned it,” said the coach. “He had some key rebounds, key shots and some put-backs.”
Day came away with eight rebounds, including five in the offensive zone. The Wildcatz had a 45-37 edge in rebounds. Both teams had rough shooting nights when faced with smothering defenses, showing 33-percent accuracy from the floor.
Basor had seven points in the first period as Watsonville took a 15-14 lead into the second period. After a Day putback basket left it at 6-6 with 5:13 to play in the first, Watsonville scored the next six points. Another Day put-back created a 12-12 tie. Christopher had its lone lead of the game at 14-13 when Rocheleau turned a Bowers pass into a layup.

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