Last weekend (Dec. 8-10) the varsity boys basketball team headed out to Vacaville High School for three games in the “Honk” Williams Classic. It was a weekend they will surely never forget. In three days the Dogs were a part of three separate games in which the outcome of the final game was determined on whether the final shot went in or out, all as the buzzer was sounding.
On Thursday, Dec. 10, Alhambra took on another group of Bulldogs from Vacaville High School. Alhambra started out playing flat and without much energy, and headed into halftime facing a seven point deficit at 29-22.
Better defense and timely shooting in the second half allowed them to climb back in and eventually take the lead in the game. After a clutch three-pointer from junior Thomas McDonald with just under a minute remaining pushed the lead to five, Vacaville would find a way to go on a 6-0 run, capped by a combination of great offensive effort on the boards and Alhambra’s inability to grab a final rebound in the waning seconds of the game.
A Vacaville layup with 10 seconds left put the home Bulldogs up 47-46. After a few fouls to stall Alhambra, the visiting Dogs had the ball on their own sideline with four seconds left.
The Vacaville defense backed way up to inside the three point line, allowing senior Josh Ramirez to pull up from about 28 feet and bank in the winning three-pointer as the time expired for a 49-47 victory. Ramirez led all scorers with 13 points, followed by McDonald with eight, and junior Darron Maxwell with seven.
That victory pushed the Bulldogs into the tournament semi-finals against the American Canyon Wolves.
The Bulldogs no doubt felt the momentum from the night before, and played a much more inspired effort in a fast-paced, up and down game that saw a lot of pressure defense from American Canyon, and much better ball movement from Alhambra.
The Bulldogs rebounded much better this night, and went into halftime feeling pretty good about trailing by only five points at the half.
In the third quarter the Dogs came out and played their best defensive quarter of the year, only allowing eight points and scoring 19, to gain and push the lead to 49-43.
American Canyon was not finished though, and turnovers saw the Wolves fight back and gain a five-point lead with just under a minute left.
The Bulldog pressure was able to force a turnover and gain a layup, but still needed three points to force a tie.
After trading free throws for a layup, the Bulldogs caught a break.
After grabbing a long rebound off a missed American Canyon free throw, Ramirez was found wide open at half court with just one Wolf defender between him and the basket.
Ramirez made it to the rim, absorbed the foul, and made the layup with just two seconds left. A free throw would tie the score and most likely force overtime.
Ramirez’s tired legs would prove too much to overcome, as the shot hit off the front-iron, and Thomas McDonald’s desperation tip-in as the buzzer sounded would not fall.
American Canyon would take home the victory 64-63. Jordyn Eglite played an outstanding game, leading all scorers with 20 points and 12 rebounds.
This left Alhambra in the third place game on Saturday, Dec. 12, against the Armijo-Fairfield Indians.
The long, athletic Indians looked the part of a very good basketball team, but the Dogs were ready for them. Playing another inspired game, the Bulldogs put together a great defense performance, shutting down Armijo’s isolation attack, centered around their big man, a 6’5” center that could dribble and shoot like a guard.
Although scoring 20, he struggled to get his points against a tough matchup with Eglite.
The Dogs were able to push the tempo and use their discipline to keep Armijo in check for most of the game.
This night would not be without its excitement though.
The Bulldogs found themselves with the ball with 45 seconds left on the game clock, but a fresh shot clock with 35 seconds on it.
They would have to take one more shot before time could expire. Alhambra was able to be patient and run most of the time off of the clock before a Bulldog three-pointer bounced off the back iron with 12 seconds remaining. The ball ricocheted right to the Armijo point guard, who found himself in the same spot as Josh Ramirez the night before: on a fast break to the basket with only one Bulldog defender to stop him.
Sophomore Nico Martinez hustled back and made the play of the game, staying in front of the Indian guard to force a tough shot attempt just a few feet away from the basket.
The rebound was tipped back and forth between Bulldogs and Indians before Senior Jason Parrilla was able to muscle the ball into his grasp as time expired. The Bulldogs walked out with a 57-56 victory.
Thomas McDonald led the Bulldogs with 20 points.
Jordyn Eglite took home All-Tournament honors for his defense and rebounding throughout the weekend, and his 36 points over three nights for the third-place Alhambra Bulldogs.