Christopher has monster 4th quarter to down Gilroy

Round one of Gilroy and Christopher was a classic that came down to a layup in the final minute to put the Mustangs on top.
Round two did not disappoint even if it didn’t come down to the wire.
Christopher got its revenge against its crosstown rival in a big way, riding a 20-point, 6:18 run to rout the Mustangs 70-44 Wednesday night.
“I’ll have to think back a lot. I’ve played a lot of basketball, but what an awesome fourth quarter,” said coach Derek Jensen. “They kids just have improved so much and played so hard. They dictated the pace at the end of the game and the ball bounced our way. I don’t know. It was a great fourth quarter.”
To that point, Gilroy had trailed but was competitive and even made a run in the third quarter to pull within three, but the Cougars hung on to keep an arm’s length buffer.
“Going into that fourth quarter with Christopher in a (seven) point lead instead of a three-point lead put us in a different position and they put on some pressure,” said coach Mike Suarez. “In that situation we just have to take care of the basketball.”
That proved to be important as it sparked something within the Cougars in the fourth quarter to turned a competitive game into a runaway.
Jensen said pointed out the last time the two teams played, Gilroy flipped the game in the third quarter after the two teams had been tied at half. He said surviving Wednesday night’s run was bigger than the fourth quarter.
“When (Gilroy) took the lead, they never looked back after that. We knew we had to withstand that run from them,” Jensen said. “Every team, every team, every basketball team makes runs. Basketball is a game of runs. We knew that run was coming. I’m just so proud of our boys.”
Noah Alvarez had nine points in the quarter and Dean Tognetti had seven to spark a 26-point stretch.
Tognetti led all shooters with 23 points, including a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter.
Alvarez finished with 11 and Chris Burnett had 14, including going 6-6 from the free throw line.
Eric Ortega just missed a triple-double, going for 12 rebounds, 9 points and 7 steals.
Rounding out the terrific 20s—Ortega (20), Alvarez (21) and Logan Sutter (22)—Sutter had a couple of boards, a blocked shot and all round played solid in the middle of the floor.
“They’ve been huge all year and in this game, they were amazing,” Jensen said.
By the time Gilroy scored again, the Mustangs went from being down by seven to down by nearly 30.
Dawson Daniels broke the scoreless stretch with a bucket after both sides started to empty their benches.
Mason Gumin finished off the quarter for the Mustangs with five points.
Three Mustangs finished with double figures scoring, led by Kevin Azcueta with 11 followed by Elijah Melendez and Andrew Castro with 10 each.
But the rest of the team scored a combined 13 points while Christopher had 22 apart from its top three scorers.
The Cougars actually bookended the game with 20-point quarters, opening with 21 points to kick things off.
Gilroy opened with a 5-1 lead thanks in part to a 3 from Azcueta, but from then on, the Mustangs were outscored 20-7, including Christopher scoring the quarter’s final nine points.
“One thing we have to keep working on is finishing,” Suarez said. “One thing in that first quarter that you saw it was competitive, we just lacked the finish of the quarter and all of a sudden we’re working up hill. Instead of keeping it competitive, we have to play a different brand of basketball and not the brand of basketball that we like.”
The Mustangs got back on track in the second quarter, going on a 6-2 run to pull within five early.
But Christopher responded with a run to go up by 11 and held on through the end of the half to a double-digit lead.
However, Azcueta hit a 3-pointer in the waning seconds of the half to keep the game at a nine-point deficit.
Coming out of the break, Gilroy regained some momentum, going on a 9-3 run that pulled the Mustangs to within three as the quarter wound down.
But the Cougars battled back to score five at the end to hold on to a seven-point lead.
At times, Gilroy was able to take advantage of giant gaps in Christopher’s full court press that led to easy layups for Castro and others that helped spark some of the runs.
Jensen said the offense fed off of the defensive effort and there was a corollary between the lackadaisical effort on one end of the floor with less than stellar effort on the other.
“When we played lazy defense, our offense was really slow and lazy too,” Jensen said. “When we picked it up, went full court and tried to pick up the pace on them, our offense picked it up also.”
Suarez said after a game like Wednesday’s it is important for the boys to stay focused on the overall goal of the season and that is to continue to learn and grow as a culture and a team. He said they just need to get ready for the next battle and learn a lesson from the Christopher game but not dwell on it.
“Through the peaks and valleys of the season, we need to be invested and we need to put in all the work and come in with the mindset that we’re going to put in what we’re learning and apply that to the next game,” Suarez said. “We have to be tough, not just physically, but mentally.”
Gilroy takes on Live Oak in a girls-boys doubleheader in Morgan Hill starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Christopher, meanwhile, will have a break and will get back after it against North Monterey County to kickoff league play Jan. 4.

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