As the Bulldogs’ time in the Diablo Foothill Athletic League comes to a close, there seem to be some mixed feelings about Alhambra’s final few games.
On the one hand, no wins in the league campaign so far makes the league change a welcome change. But the improved performances over the last few weeks makes you think the Bulldogs could still hang with the league.
Their 63-49 loss to Miramonte on Friday, Feb. 5, started in the worst way possible. Miramonte’s small but loud student section was awoken early by Miramonte’s 15-2 run punctuated by a big dunk by senior Ryan Anderson.
Alhambra found a way to chip away at the lead, which they would do for all 40 minutes of the game, but they had a tough time stopping the Matador’s biggest weapon.
Oregon commit Eddy Ionescu had 35 points against the Bulldogs, who struggled to find an answer for the 6-foot-5 wing.
Thomas McDonald and Jordyn Eglite were both tasked with guarding Ionescu, but McDonald committed two fouls with only two minutes coming off the clock in the first quarter. Eglite had committed three fouls by halftime.
Alhambra did get a comparative effort from senior guard Josh Ramirez.
The 5-foot-7 guard started this season nursing a nagging football injury, and as coach Anthony Ertola described it, “I don’t know what got into him over the last few weeks,” Ertola said. “But he needed to learn how to work with this team.”
Ramirez has been a starter since his sophomore year, and spent a lot of time playing with last year’s senior class from AAU ball to high school.
“He’s been staying after practice to shoot,” Ertola said of Ramirez’ work ethic. “He was the Josh we saw last year. He got too focused on getting his teammates involved that he forgot about himself.”
Ramirez had 19 points in the loss, but his 11 points in the fourth quarter helped Alhambra cut down what was once a 18-point lead.
Back-to-back 3-pointers cut down the lead to 10, and forced Miramonte coach Drew McDonald to call timeout to slow down the momentum shift.
He put the ball in the hand of his scorer, Ionescu, and the senior did the rest. He and junior power forward Charlie Hocking were unstoppable.
Hocking had 15 points, but his ability to hit the pull-up jumper roasted Alhambra. Matching up with both he and Ionescu proved to be too tough, despite one of the Bulldogs’ best shooting nights all season.
“We felt comfortable starting to take more of those outside shots, where earlier in the year we couldn’t hit them, so we couldn’t take them,” Ertola said.
In the final five minutes the two teams went back and forth with Miramonte using up as much time as they could with every possession. After McDonald’s tip in with 1:06 Ertola called timeout hoping to make one last run, but despite Ramirez’ fifth 3-pointer of the night Miramonte hit their free throws to hold on.
“They’re a good basketball team, and they’re going to make a run in the playoffs. I’m just proud of the kids for not giving up, Ertola said.
“A lesser group would’ve thrown in the towel. But they come to practice excited to go, and they’ve bought into the mentality that they don’t know what’s going to happen the rest of the way, but they’re going to give it all they got.”