Gilroy High boys basketball coach Tim Jones said his team has worked on crashing the boards in recent practices.
That came in handy when it mattered most in the opening round of the 33rd annual Bob Hagen Memorial Invitational on Thursday.
Senior forward Tommy Cox converted a put-back with just under two minutes remaining to give Gilroy a one-point lead, and the host Mustangs held on for a 64-62 victory over Santa Cruz Harbor.
“That’s something we’ve really worked on in practice, is having our guys try to get some offensive rebounds and attack the glass,” Jones said. “We don’t have really big players, but we do have some athletic big players. We talk about being able to get to the glass and work really hard.”
Cox’s put-back gave Gilroy a 63-62 lead. Gilroy’s Travis Moulden, who scored eight points, made 1 of 2 free throws with 4.6 seconds left for a 64-62 advantage.
Another put-back from Brendan Holler gave Gilroy (3-3) a 61-60 lead with just under three minutes left. But Joseph Scalini scored underneath to give Harbor a 62-61 lead, setting the stage for Cox’s go-ahead basket.
Cox paced the Mustangs with 17 points.
“Tommy’s probably the guy we’re going to run a lot of stuff through,” Jones said. “We hope he’s our leading scorer, we hope that he’s going to be our leading rebounder. We kind of put him in all sorts of positions, and he’s still growing into that role a little bit, to be depended on for so much.”
Zach Loo had 15 points and Chris Chang scored 11 for Gilroy, which hit 11 3-pointers in the game as the Mustangs rallied from a 37-32 halftime deficit.
“We just all of a sudden got alive and things started to click, and the next thing you know we’re right back in it,” Jones said. “To me that’s a really impressive trait, (that) they just don’t give up.”
Dean Rinaldi and Joseph Scalini scored 15 points each for Harbor, and teammate Josh Benard added 13 points.
Gilroy will play Live Oak in the semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday.
Live Oak 66, Anzar 35 – Luke Laguna scored 20 points and Ardean Salvador added 10 points to lead the Acorns by the Hawks.
Live Oak built a 44-13 halftime lead and cruised to the win.
Anzar will play Harbor in a consolation semifinal at 5 p.m. Friday.
San Benito 78, Pioneer 36 – Hyram Miskin drained five 3-pointers on his way to 23 points as the Balers beat the Mustangs.
Jacob Tonascia added 16 points for San Benito, which will play Aptos in the semifinals at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Kevin Berticevich had seven points for Pioneer, which will play Christopher in a consolation semifinal at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
Aptos 60, Christopher 52 – The Cougars were unable to hold a 31-30 halftime lead in a loss to the Mariners.
Wyatt Rocheleau scored 17 points for Christopher, which got 14 points from Andrew Foster and 10 points from Jaysan Maolinbay.