It wasn’t quite the second campaign Los Banos boys basketball coach Marcus McGraw had hoped for.
The Tigers showed some signs of promise, hovering right around .500 in nonconference play, but struggled to find consistency as the Western Athletic Conference got going.
A 2-8 league campaign ensured that Los Banos (9-17) finished with just one more victory than in McGraw’s first season with the program. The only thing that went according to plan in conference play was a season-sweep of crosstown rival Pacheco, which the Tigers completed with a 63-56 victory at home last Friday.
The Panthers (7-17, 1-9 WAC) led 26-25 at halftime, but LB took the game over with a dominant third quarter.
The trio of Cameron Gomez (game-high 17 points), Anthony Aguirre (15) and Trent Mallonee (11) led the charge, combining for 13 of the Tigers’ 18 points in the decisive third quarter.
Travis Willmott did his best to answer for Pacheco, scoring nine of his team-high 13 points in the fourth quarter. Anthony Lyons set the pace early for the Panthers, scoring eight of his 10 points in the opening quarter.
Los Banos 35, Pacheco 17 in Los Banos – After a two-year absence, the Tigers locked up their place back in the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs with a road win over the Panthers.
LB (14-13, 6-4 WAC) didn’t make life easy for itself, starting out league play 0-3. The Tigers closed furiously, however, winning six of their last seven games to finish in third place.
The rivalry game was probably a little closer at intermission the Los Banos coach Danny Crosby would have liked, but the Tigers outscored the Panthers (4-18, 0-10 WAC) 19-7 after the break. Sierra Alvarez paced LB with a game-high 10 points while Erika Gutierrez chipped in nine. Zhaelyn Riley led Pacheco with four pints in the loss.
The playoff seedings were announced on Thursday after press time.
Pacheco 4, Central Valley 2 in Los Banos – The Panthers kept their WAC-title hopes alive with a big home win over the Hawks, completing a monster week with victories over their two biggest title contenders.
Rodolfo Rivera scored twice to push his team-leading total to 20. Cesar Martinez continued to make an impact in just his second game back from injury, adding a goal and an assist, while Pablo Ortiz scored his 19th.
Pacheco (16-2-4, 10-1-3) followed up the victory with a forfeit win over Ceres, keeping it one point behind the Wolves with one game to play. A Livingston loss or draw against Patterson and a Panther win would give Pacheco the title outright. A Livingston loss and a draw with Los Banos would earn Pacheco a share of their first crown. A Wolves’ victory would force the Panthers to settle for second.
WAC Championsips in Los Banos – Ten Los Banos-area wrestlers extended their seasons with top-four finishes at the WAC Championships last weekend.
Los Banos High led the way with eight athletes advancing to today’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV Tournament at Union Mine High in El Dorado.
Christian McEntire and Saul Madriz had the best showing, winning WAC titles at 132 and 152 pounds respectively. Dreu Briceno just missed out on joining them, taking second at 160 pounds while Sebastian Vegara (116), Isaiah Jimenez (138), Cody Battles (170), Gabriel Mendoza (182) and Jimmy Venya (195) all finished third.
Pacheco had a pair of qualifiers in Anthony Velazquez and Carlos Villasenor. Velazquez fell to McEntire in the 132 championship match while Villasenor captured third at 120.
Sac-Joaquin Section Masters in Stockton – Nine area wrestlers are set to make their bids for a state berth when the Masters Tournament gets underway today at McNair High in Stockton.
Los Banos will have five representatives, led by 2016 state qualifier Haley Ballez (108). She’ll be joined by Linda Pelayo (152), Marcella Valenzuela (145), Destiny Torres (118) and Marlene Delgado (138).
Pacheco has a returning state qualifier of their own in Geralene Pomele (145). She’ll be accompanied by Jovita Jaime (237), Genesis Oceguera (123) and Miranda Arrey (128).
The top five finishers in each weight class will advance to state.