FRIDAY ROUNDUP: GHS hoops downed by Palma, CHS girls hoops wins third straight

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Gilroy Chima Ikeme goes up against Palma for a shot during their

Also, GHS boys soccer clears another hurdle and CHS boys soccer
suffers difficult loss to Pajaro Valley.
A habit that has impeded the Gilroy High boys basketball team in its previous two outings (1-1) reared its ugly head once again.

The Mustangs, fighting for playoff positioning, dug themselves a 25-point first-half hole, and despite a late charge, conceded a disappointing 61-50 loss to visiting Tri-County Athletic League opponent Palma on Friday night.

“They did their normal, ‘we don’t want to play the first half thing,'” GHS head coach Matt Tait said. “Anybody can make a run down 20. What do you have to lose, down 40? We found a great group there at the end and they made a great run – team basketball. We just have to find that chemistry for four quarters.”

All seemed fine and dandy following the first quarter. A Cameron Harrell 3-pointer at the buzzer made it 11-8 Palma.

But a dismal second quarter, in which the Mustangs’ (13-9, 6-4 TCAL) lone bucket from the field came with two seconds to play before halftime, changed the game’s course for good.

Palma meanwhile shot 9-of-17 in the second quarter to mount a 36-11 advantage.

GHS managed to scrape together a comeback in the fourth quarter behind the five-some of Cameron Yawary, Chima Ikeme, Kyle Stannard, Dietrich Baumgartner and Harrell. The deficit stood at six, 56-48, with 40 seconds to play but five straight points from sophomore standout Noah Allen sealed Gilroy’s fate.

“They did a better job defensively, we just weren’t making shots. Everything was one and done,” Tait said.

Playoffs are still a likely destination. However, Friday’s loss did lower Gilroy’s seeding stock.

Girls Hoops: CHS 46, Watsonville 35

The Christopher High girls basketball team saved its best for last.

The Cougars, coming off of back-to-back double-digit victories earlier in the week, made it three in a row with a 46-35 triumph over Watsonville in the Monterey Bay League regular-season finale Friday night in Gilroy.

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” CHS head coach Heather Stewart said, explaining the Cougars’ late-season resurgence. “They are believing in themselves. They are realizing that the system works if it’s done the right way. We cut our turnovers in half, and they are seeing if you take care of the ball, you get positive results.”

Hanna Tabron backed up her 23-point, 20 rebound effort against Monte Vista Christian with another double-double. This time depositing 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.

Merrett Brown scored 10 points, Maddie Peterson and Jenni Sigl both had seven and Haylee Peterson posted six.

“They are playing with more confidence,” Stewart said.

The surging Cougars have a chance to continue the upswing in the MBL’s postseason tournament. CHS will carry its head of steam into the tourney on Tuesday. Seeding hasn’t been finalized.

Boys Soccer: Gilroy 3, Alvarez 1

The players knew it was a pivotal match – and they responded accordingly.

Three first-half goals proved plenty as the Gilroy High boys soccer team cleared yet another hurdle toward a Tri-County Athletic League title, defeating Everett Alvarez 3-1 on Friday in Gilroy.

“We are in first place but we have Alisal right behind us. We wanted to come out and play hard the whole game,” Luis Galvan said.

Though the Eagles have just two wins in league this season one of those came against Alisal, who handed the Mustangs their first TCAL loss last week, narrowing the gap between first and second to one game.

Abraham Arriaga kick started the scoring for GHS, who played an up-tempo first 40 minutes, which ultimately suited them well.

Arriaga took a feed from Jonathan Diaz De Leon in the 18th minute for a 1-0 advantage.

Gilroy struck again in the 29th on a special looking play where Arriaga received a perfect header, collected the pass at his feet and calmly dished it to a free Kritian Urias in the box. Urias dribbled about five yards before burying the ball.

Diaz De Leon earned a penalty kick in the 35th minute and had the honors of taking the shot, capitalizing and lifting the Mustangs to 3-0.

“We were moving it a lot and talking and getting good passes off the midfielders,” Diaz De Leon said.

Boys Soccer: Pajaro Valley 2, Christopher 0

With playoff aspirations weighing heavily on the outcome of its tilt with visiting Monterey Bay League opponent Pajaro Valley, anything less than a win was unsatisfactory to the Christopher High boys soccer team. Unfortunately, the Cougars were unable to answer the call, losing a difficult 2-0 decision to the Grizzlies on Friday in Gilroy.

“All week we talked about our next two games,” CHS head coach Stephen Casey said. “Being a young team they sometimes don’t step up like they should. But I expect that because of their age. But they were mentally prepared.”

It was perhaps some of that youthful inexperience that led to both Grizzlies’ goals. Pajaro Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead five minutes before halftime – Victor Fernandez snuck behind the Cougars’ backline, which was inadvertently playing an offside trap, and booted home the ball. Abisai Cristobal made the Cougars pay in the 46th minute of the second half, taking advantage of a failure to clear the defensive zone.

“When experience comes into play, they have us beat on us,” Ben Troini said. “They move the ball well on the ground and we kind of play kick ball. We wanted it going in, We just didn’t prove it on the field.”

Though the Grizzlies recorded the only goals, the Cougars, who have shown all season to have the speed to counter at any time, didn’t lack in chances.

Early on in the first half, Carlos Jimenez played sideline run by Cristian Manzo who turned the corner on his defender and sent a cross through the box which was snagged by the keeper before reaching a teammate.

Three set plays from prime position just outside the 18 fell by the wayside as well.

“When you have opportunities like that against a team like that, you have to take advantage of them,” Casey said.

Next up for CHS is a road test against first-place Watsonville in the season finale Wednesday.

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