THURSDAY 21 – Saddleback’s Gauchos went against Mira Costa’s Spartans, both sides prepared for a long battle against each other
Saddleback College Men’s basketball. Photo credit: Lariat
“I watched them on tape. They’re hard to guard, they run a lot of good things. Ah, they drive the ball well, they play hard.” Said Saddleback Coach Andy Ground after 70-55 victory againest Mira Costa last Wednesday After three consecutive losses this season, Saddleback had finally broken their losing streak in a spectacular style against an equally skilled opponent
Throughout the game, both teams played aggressively. A total of 29 fouls from both teams and injuries that benched players on each team.
In the first half, the Spartans and the Gauchos danced across the gymnasium. The ball continued to move between the teams, a fluid display from each side.
Spartans Dirk Helair Jr. and Devynn Wakefield forced the Gauchos to keep up with an equally aggressive play style. Despite this, the Gauchos had to play better defense than in the previous three losses.
“I think that was the reason we kept losing the past three games, now that we got that locked in we did better.” Said Keegan Cummins. “It’s hard. We were on a three game losing streak, so it was definitely something we needed. Coming in, we kinda knew what we needed to do and lucky we were able to execute.”
Cummins along with Captain Whitlock guarded off the Spartans in the first half with a combined total of 18 rebounds. Along with this defensive display, Saddleback pushed to overpower Mira Costa.
Cummins was injured near the end of the first half. Despite this, Cummins was able to grab two more defensive rebounds in two minutes before sitting out the rest of the game.
The Spartans attempted to balance their player’s play time, compared to the constant play of the Gauchos. A strategic choice that could’ve upset the Gaucho lead in the second half.
Instead, the first minute for the Spartans resulted in a player going down. This was followed by a ball jam and four fouls.
Attempting to regain their footing, the Spartans made a 3 pointer to gain momentum. Mira Costa followed this bid by doing whatever possible to keep Saddleback from a larger lead.
During this, the Gauchos fought tooth and nail to close in. In the madness, Deviian Williams rushed toward the basket and landed a dunk on the Spartans. “I wasn’t expecting that myself, but Coach was just telling me that you got a job, you got the athleticism to do it, so go ahead. So that’s what I did, I was just like ‘forget it’ and just went for it.” Williams said on his decision.
Against the ropes, the entire Mira Costa team banded against Saddleback. Pressured by the players on the court and in the seats, Dial succumbed to the Spartan’s full court press and was forced into a turnover.
After the press, the Gauchos were like sharks out for blood. A back to back steal from Gauchos Deviian Williams and Tristan Willams started a snowball effect for the Spartans.
The Gauchos bullied their opponents for the rest of the match, forcing the Spartans to play high risk for the remaining game. The Spartans made and missed three attempts for 3 points before Jeryn Williams finally broke the streak by landing a 3 pointer.
Many of the remaining shots taken by the Spartans shared this high risk, high reward strategy. This gave a clear sight to victory for the Gauchos, only needing to maintain their lead and eat as much of the remaining game.
Despite their efforts, the Spartans were given no quarter from the Gauchos for the remaining portion of the game. At the finale and with only a few seconds on the clock, Saddleback return the favor from earlier by stalling out Mira Costa until the end.