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Slow start dooms the Bulldog boys at home

Alhambra’s Jordyn Eglite (right) tries to back in to Campolindo center Sterling Strother in the Bulldogs’ 72-36 loss to the Cougars on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. Eglite had a team-high eight points on the night, while Strother had 14 points for his team in the win. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Alhambra’s Jordyn Eglite (right) tries to back in to Campolindo center Sterling Strother in the Bulldogs’ 72-36 loss to the Cougars on Monday, Jan. 25, 2016. Eglite had a team-high eight points on the night, while Strother had 14 points for his team in the win. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)

By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

There may or may not be a secret calendar somewhere in the depths of Alhambra High School counting down the days until the Bulldogs are moved into a new league.

I can neither confirm nor deny that it exists, but one thing is for sure, it’s end date will be very welcome, especially for coach Anthony Ertola.

Ertola’s Bulldogs’ 72-36 loss to the Campolindo Cougars was a slight improvement on some of their more recent fixtures. But what it really does is serve as a reminder that teams have a tough time making adjustments in the middle of a Diablo Foothill Athletic League campaign.

Especially a team welcoming it’s fourth varsity coach in four years.

“Unfortunately we shoot ourselves in the foot and dig ourselves into a hole that we can’t climb out of,” Ertola said. “Part of being a competitor is learning to grind.”

Campolindo came out of the gates hot, blazing their way to a 19-4 lead in the first quarter. An early 6-0 run forced Ertola to call time out early on to regroup.

The Cougars’ center Sterling Strother dominated the boards and turned all three of his offensive rebounds in the quarter into immediate second-chance points. Austin Clarke, the 6-foot-6 wing had nine of his 19 points in the opening quarter, which included a pair 3-pointers.

The Cougars moved the ball around well, but Ertola felt he liked his match up with junior Thomas McDonald guarding Clarke. After a hot start the senior cooled down, but still made his presence felt in the game.

Where the Bulldogs truly felt at a disadvantage was against Strother. But as Ertola noted, you don’t get many chances to in practice to simulate going up against a 270-pound offensive lineman.

Strother, who is committed to playing football at Yale next year, had 14 points mostly being guarded by junior Jordyn Eglite. Strother holds at least a 70 pound advantage over Eglite, and is significantly larger than sophomore Tyler Clemons, who also put in a solid shift banging around with the big man from Moraga.

“I have a lot of respect for that kid,” Ertola said of Strother. “We knew he was going to be a little bit of trouble. Give credit to Campolindo when we boxed him out, we used two guys, and when their guy helped he would find the rebound.”

A more competitive second quarter from the Bulldog men helped ease the pain on the faces of those watching, but even a 19-12 second quarter scoreline couldn’t cut into the huge lead.

Ertola said he feels like the team has become too prone to allowing teams to get into these big runs that basically dictate the result of the game way too early. Ertola jokingly said if there was any book on stopping runs in the middle of a game he would like to take a look at it.

The Bulldogs scored exactly 16 points in both halves, but Eglite’s eight points were the team-high on the night. Ertola said that low of a total is down to the fact that they like to get their points down low, and once again you have Strother to contend with.

Still looking for their first win, the Bulldogs get ready to close to book on the first half of league play against Acalanes on Wednesday after Tribune deadline.

“I know its a cliche but i try to take it game by game. My mindset is to approach the next game as if we’ve won every game,” Ertola said. “It is frustrating, and I know it’s been hard on the kids but you just go back to work and hope for the best.”

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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