By GERARDO RECINOS
No one said it was going to be easy, but the road to reviving the boys basketball program has taken many unexpected twists in the last few months.
Newly hired coach Chris Petiti has a long climb to bring the program back to its former level, but a tough start to the season has made it a not-so-jolly holiday season.
The Gene “Honk” Williams tournament in Vacaville was always going to be a tough test for the Bulldogs, but last years third place finish did leave some room for hope.
Friday afternoon’s 72-31 loss to Modesto High School was an empathic and comprehensive message from the Panthers that they didn’t take too kindly to being in the consolation bracket of the tournament. Modesto was shunted into the wrong half of the bracket after drawing eventual second-place finishers Foothill-Palo Cedro in their opening game.
Alhambra couldn’t cope with the Panthers’ speed, rebounding and flat out desire. Alhambra wanted to win, Modesto needed to win.
Flashy fast-paced basketball allowed the Panthers to get out to an early 10-2 run where nearly every Bulldog player on the court was shut out from the field. All but senior Thomas McDonald, who converted a pair of driving lay ups to make sure his team wasn’t blanked from the field.
Only McDonald, Nico Martinez, and Wyatt Hammer were able to make field goals in the entire first half of play, while Modesto scored a cool 35 points.
That huge spike in scoring came largely due to a 23-point quarter where six different players chipped in points, lead by senior forward Paxton Sweeney, who scored nine points in the quarter.
Things got worse in the third quarter, as Modesto threw up another 20 point outburst, but the previous non-existent shooting from the Bulldogs did perk up, if only a bit.
Gabe Arditti got the first Alhambra points of the second half, while a couple of pull up jumpers from McDonald opened up some space on the court to allow Kinrick Todd to hit the afternoon’s first three-pointer from Alhambra.
Modesto didn’t lose a beat with their second and third units in the game seeing time with some starters sparingly mixed in. Although the Bulldogs’ scoring picked up in the final two quarters of play, they were still held to single-digit outputs. That meant they had failed to get to the magic number of ten in all four quarters, the first time thats happened in the young season.
Previously the Bulldogs had four quarters this season where they had been held to low-scoring quarters, but Friday night’s loss was the first time it happened in the fourth quarter.