By GERARDO RECINOS
It only took three minutes and 45 seconds for Clayton Valley Charter to effectively seal the fate of the reeling Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
Prior to that stretch, every thing looked peachy for Alhambra. But a 16-0 Ugly Eagle run was the key turning point in the 70-52 loss on Jan. 24.
It would seem impossible that anything that happened in the first quarter of play could decide the outcome of a game that still had 24 minutes of game time left to play.
But it did.
Prior to the Clayton Valley 16-0 run, the Bulldogs were competing in what looked like a tight contest. Despite the ongoing rebounding problem, Alhambra matched the intensity of the Eagles.
It all fell apart after the Bulldogs took a brief lead and Eagles coach Eric Bamberger took a timeout to loudly instruct his team on his opinions on the way they executed.
Appropriately, the players responded as expected when challenged to step up. Their pressing defense smothered Alhambra’s passers in the back court, and the Bulldogs turned the ball over multiple times during the big run.
Big three-pointers from sophomore guard Cooper Dadami and junior JD Williams put the Ugly Eagles up 14 points.
A deficit that large that early would be nearly impossible to overturn on most nights. But when it comes at the hand of the Diablo Athletic League’s first place team, its just not going to happen.
And worst of all, it just got worse as the half progressed.
The Bulldogs picked up their game on the offensive side of the ball, but they traded points at an uneven pace with Clayton Valley. The Division I opponents gave up a few points in the paint to Bulldog senior Jordyn Eglite,but not much more to anyone else.
Because they had already built up such a big lead, via the 16-0 run and more, the Eagles started the second half with some of their bench players.
But again Alhambra couldn’t capitalize to make a run of their own.
Clayton Valley’s second and third string players were only outscored 13-11 in the quarter despite not making a field goal in the quarter until there were only 30 seconds on the clock.
However even then Dadami’s five-points in thirty seconds turned a promising 13-point deficit going into the fourth quarter into an 18-point difference between the two teams.
An inspired fourth quarter by junior Kinrick Todd was far from enough for the Bulldog boys, but did flatter the scoreline, which had ballooned to a 26 points in favor of the Eagles at one point.
Todd and senior Thomas McDonald were, however, the only two players to convert from the field in the fourth quarter for Alhambra.
With the loss, the Bulldogs will hope to be able to take care of business against Ygnacio Valley on Friday night as they search for their first league win. If they do it will also be their first win in nearly a month.
As it stands, winning out would be the only way the Bulldogs could still hope to punch a ticket into the North Coast Section playoffs.
Anything less would likely see yet another idle spring for the Bulldog boys.