BASKETBALL: Rams close gap, can’t finish in loss to MPC

Gavilan Head Coach Tito Addison talks to the team at a timeout

In the second half of Friday night’s game against visiting Monterey Peninsula College, the Gavilan men’s basketball team chipped away at an 11-point deficit, sculpting a manageable four-point dilemma with plenty of time to spare. In workman-like fashion, the Rams again pulled themselves to the surface with another four-point climb ahead after the Lobos had stretched their lead back to 10 midway through.

However, a 20-9 Lobos’ burst to the final horn left the Rams with a 73-58 defeat – an outcome the unfortunate antithesis of the efforts and resiliency.

It’s the second straight Coast Conference South contest where the Rams (1-14 overall, 0-3 conference) put themselves in a position to win, only to lose touch with their opponent late. Gavilan held a second-half lead against De Anza one week ago, eventually falling, 80-58.

“It’s not frustrating that the wins aren’t there. it’s frustrating that we can’t finish it. We are getting enough shots to win, we are just not making them,” sophomore Jamil Taylor said. “It’s not so much the score, because we know how good we are. We just can’t get everybody on the same collective page at the same time.”

On both occasions where the Rams were within four points in the second half Friday night, a ill-timed offensive lull set them back. Matt Johnson’s fourth of five 3-pointers on the night and back-to-back buckets from Jamil Taylor and Stanley Morgan during the first three minutes of the second half made it 44-39 in the Lobos’ favor. Momentum deflated over the next four minutes, though, as an 8-1 MPC run had the lead back to double digits.

Two Scott Taylor 3-pointers and another from Jordan Ramirez emphatically rejuvenated the Rams – down just 53-49 with 9:49 left to play. The Rams didn’t hit another shot until the 3:28 mark.

“This is the exact story of every game. When people read the score, it doesn’t indicate how the game goes. I want the community to know that. You look at the scoreboard and we lost by 15. But that’s not how it goes. We are within one or two possessions that just don’t go our way and we don’t get it done,” Gavilan head coach Tito Addison said. “We are just waiting for two or three guys to step up and get these to sway in our favor.”

Both teams started dialed in from deep. Johnson hit three consecutive 3-pointers to start the game. That 9-0 advantage dissolved in a matter of moments with the help of three 3-pointers in a row off the hand of MPC’s Jarred White. The second in the string of treys tied the game 12-12. The third gave the Lobos a 17-12 lead.

MPC (7-12 overall, 1-3 conference), converted 8-of-13 from downtown in the first half, and led by as many as 13. Six-foot-9 center Andrew Young complimented the Lobos hot start from the outside with dominant play in the paint. Young posed a matchup problem in the first half and posted 16 points on 7-of-8 from the floor.

Jamil Taylor and Lance Torres minimized the second-half impact of Young, holding the freshman to one bucket – a breakaway dunk.

“We decided to double him. He’s a good player, obviously, so we just added some help,” Jamil Taylor said. “Initially it worked to our advantage. But we didn’t finish.”

Limiting Young’s production was the initial game plan. The Rams didn’t count on the Lobos, who were shooting less than 30 percent from beyond the arc coming into the game, to make 12 treys on the night.

“All of a sudden, these guys are banging three’s away,” Addison said. “We did a better job of challenging them in the second half. But we didn’t make enough of our own shots. And that’s what it comes down to.”

Johnson finished with a team-high 18 points, Scott Taylor had 15, Morgan eight and Jamil Taylor contributed seven points for the Rams. Young led all scorers with 20 points, White had 14 points – all in the first half – and Shayne Perryman, who had three 3-pointers in the second half posted 13 points for the Lobos.

“We’ve been there. We have the determination, we have the hard work, and we have the dedication. The wins will come when they are supposed to, I guess,” Jamil Taylor said. “Honestly, it just comes down to making shots.”

Gavilan is at Hartnell on Wednesday then back home against Cabrillo ob Friday.

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