By GERARDO RECINOS
The Bulldogs played about three-and-a-half quarters of basketball before they imploded, or rather, the Wildcats exploded in a Feb. 2 win.
It seemed as if this one would be one for the imaginary moral victory column. The Bulldogs were within six points late in the third quarter; they managed to cope with Dougherty Valley’s size advantage, and got off to a hot-shooting start.
So how did the game end with the Bulldogs with their tails between their legs, losing 63-45, at one point going down by as much as 26 points?
It was that difficult-to-stop run that Coach Anthony Ertola mentions every week – whether it was a small lapse in focus, or just the fact that Dougherty Valley is the better team.
The Wildcats sit at an eye-popping 20-2 this season, and a gaudy 7-1 in Diablo Foothill Athletic League play. Their only loss came to second-place Dublin.
Alhambra started off the match with a promising offensive outburst.
Junior Thomas McDonald started the match hitting a pair of 3-pointers, as did senior Zac Runyon.
Those efforts however were matched by Dougherty’s Jesse Grabow, who one-upped the two Bulldogs by hitting three of his own.
Dougherty Valley went on a 10-0 run before Alhambra was forced to call time out early into the second quarter. Junior Kenny Tang scored four points for the Wildcats to spark the run, which was only stunted by a short jumper from McDonald and an unexpected 3-pointer from senior Jason Parilla.
McDonald had eight points on the half, while Runyon added six points of his own to keep the Bulldogs within striking range.
Right from the jump the hot-shooting Dogs continued to find the net.
They cut down the lead to six on a pull up jumper from McDonald following a 3-pointer from junior Jordyn Eglite.
Dougherty Valley called timeout with 3:16 left in the third quarter, and Wildcat coach Mike Hansen’s team took a breather before coming back onto the court.
A quick 3-pointer from Grabow sparked a 19-0 run that Alhambra would never be able to come back from. Grabow, who had 14 points to lead the Wildcats, gave way to Tang, who had 10 points total, and led the charge in the fourth quarter.
The Wildcats had 11 different scorers on the night, so their high-point man only mustering 14 is understandable because they have so much firepower coming from the bench they could live with that.
Alhambra only had six scorers, but those six did their best to make a game of it before the final whistle blew.
A pair of free throws from Runyon stopped the bleeding that saw the Bulldogs go nearly five minutes without scoring.
Runyon and senior guard Josh Ramirez hit a pair of back-to-back 3-pointers that started a late 9-0 run for Alhambra.
Although the run was too little, too late, to affect the final score, it forced Hansen to re-enter a pair of starters before the game ended, and ultimately changed the difference in scores from 26 to only 18.
That point difference can be picked apart in many different ways, but the run from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth is the one that killed any hope of an upset.