GILROY — For three quarters, Christopher put itself in a position to pull off the upset over San Benito. With stands packed and the home crowd behind them, the Cougars pulled within one point heading into the final frame and the momentum seemed to be in their favor — but the Haybalers quickly put an end to that.
The visitors scored 14 points and almost shut Christopher out in the fourth had it not been for Josh Wheat 3-point buzzer beater to pick up the season sweep 45-33. The Balers beat Christopher 65-47 on Jan. 15 in Hollister.
“I really liked the way we finished the game,” Balers coach David Kaplansky said. “I thought our fourth quarter ball control, the way we handled the ball, we didn’t take bad shots. We used the clock to our advantage and capitalized. I was just real proud how we finished.”
After trailing by 10 points early in the third, the Cougars found their rhythm, connecting on swing passes that had previously resulted in turnovers. It wasn’t just one player who took the burden of scoring as six CHS players — Evan Shapiro, Shane Suttles, Dillon Day, Zander Bowers, Miika Smith and Wheat — found the net in that quarter to close the gap at 31-30.
Kaplansky rallied his troops and told them they needed to find their way to the basket instead of settling for perimeter shots. That adjustment seemed to rattle the Cougars, resulting in a slew of offensive turnovers.
“(I told them) not to let up. We’ve had a rough stretch through league right now and being down four at half to a team in first place (20-16), it’s not good enough,” CHS coach Eric David said. “We need to put another half together.
“In the third quarter, we battled back. In the fourth we kind of ran out of gas and they picked it up and put that run together. We were just having trouble scoring the ball.”
Robbie Skinner led all scorers with 15 points in addition to a rebound, assist and three steals. San Benito’s Hyram Miskin led the defensive stance with seven rebounds, two blocks and two steals in addition to 11 points.
“We’ve been doing a good job all year playing defense,” Kaplansky said. “We’ve been playing a lot more straight up, good ball pressure. Tonight we really extended our pressure. I felt like we had an advantage in the back court. …They closed the gap. This is a tough place to play and they’re a heck of a team. That really showed the resilience of our team in a situation like that where they cut it so close and the game could swing either way.”
Wheat led the Cougars with 10 points — including three 3-pointers — in the game. Suttles scored eight points in addition to six rebounds and two steals.
“All week coach was just getting on us that we had to come out and play hard. From the beginning we came out just doing our best,” Wheat said.
The first place Balers (19-2 overall, 8-1 in league) will be back in action at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Seaside.
Christopher will look to rebound with a 7 p.m. contest against Seaside Wednesday at home.
Score by quarters
San Benito — 8/12/11/14 – 45
Christopher — 3/13/14/3 – 33
San Benito — Skinner – 15 – 7 FG, 1-2 FT; Miskin – 11 – 2 FG, 4-4 FT, 1 3-pointer; Harrison – 9 – 3 FG, 3-4 FT
Christopher — Wheat – 10 – 3 3-pointers, 1-2 FT; Suttles – 8- 3 FG, 2-2 FT; Shapiro – 5- 1 FG, 3-4 FT