By GERARDO RECINOS
Anthony Ertola’s outset at the helm of the Bulldogs got off to a promising start with an (un)official first win on Tuesday night against the Encinal Jets, 64-58.
The Nov. 24 win was not without its problems, but thats why the game is labeled a “foundation” game, so that it can start off a season and allow coaches to adjust.
Alhambra’s varsity boys basketball team has six members that were in full pads less than 72 hours ago, so there will be some rust.
Naturally, they were led by the guys who have been at practice and in basketball mode for a few weeks now.
Zach Runyon, whom Ertola highlighted as one of his leaders while the football guys were out, dropped 16 points on Tuesday night, and shot better than 50 percent from three-point range.
Another senior who saw a spike in his minutes when compared to last season was Jerald Jionaran. He rewarded his coach’s trust by putting away 11 points.
Jordyn Eglite did his part by playing two well-rounded quarters and scoring 14 points, despite not being in the starting lineup.
The Bulldogs’ new defensive-minded set-up took effect almost instantly. Alhambra held Encinal to only 10 points in the opening quarter, and backed that up with a decent defensive effort in the second quarter, with 14 points allowed.
While the rebounding problem from last year was visible, it was understandable. Dante Abono, the team’s 6-foot-6 center was on the bench all game. He will surely put a dent into some of the opponent’s offensive rebounds that the Jets were able to grab.
That’s not to say Ertola didn’t grow frustrated with his team’s inability to box out and allow Encinal to get second looks on the ball. However, that too comes with time.
Alhambra built up leads as big as 10 points, but Encinal fought back by getting second chances and better looks due to a strong game on the offensive boards. Alhambra was able to negate that strength with a quick dose of speed on the fast break, remnants of last season’s offensive “scheme” still present.
When it came time to shut it down however, Alhambra made more of their shots from the free-throw line in a fourth quarter that turned into a contest from the charity stripe.
That allowed them to walk away winners for the first time this season.