Boys Basketball: Blazers edge Monarchs 73-64 at home
Golden West wins first two games of the year by single-digit margins
By Patrick Dillon @PDillon_SGN
VISALIA – Just two weeks into the season and the Golden West Trailblazers are proving that they have what it takes to win close games. On the heels of a seven-point win over Kingsburg two weeks ago, the Blazers defeated the Exeter Monarchs 73-64.
“It’s good to get a win in a game like this when you have to battle through ups and downs,” said Golden West head coach Drew Hall.
After a close first quarter where neither team was able to put much distance from the other, it was Golden West (2-0) who made the first move. Only ahead 14-12, the Blazers switched to the full court press. In the middle was one of Golden West’s big men, Tucker Stainbrook.
“He is aggressive and has a nose for the ball,” Hall said. “Not to mention he is a really good athlete.”
At 6-foot-3, the senior helped the team get a couple steals early on in the second quarter, which the Blazers were able to turn into points. First Stainbrook took one to the basket himself and was fouled while going toward the basket. He made one of his two free throw attempts. His second came on the next Monarch (4-3) inbound pass. This time he dished it out to teammate Matthew Delreal, who made a three-pointer from beyond the arc, making the score 20-12.
“My length and range definitely helps out when playing that middle,” Stainbrook said.
As the quarter went on, the Blazers were able to double their lead. On another steal by Stainbrook — this time under the Exeter basket — he passed up the floor to Delreal. Clear of the Monarch defense, he scored with a layup, moving the score to 35-23. Another two-point basket by Delreal made it 37-23, their biggest lead of the game.
Despite already playing a game earlier that day, the Monarchs were able to close the deficit before halftime. Due to a scheduling mishap at the Sierra Pacific Tournament, the Monarchs had lost to the hosting Golden Bears 73-70. However, the Monarchs were able to find enough energy to go on a 12-2 run. That ended with Jaykob Acosta dropping a long two-point shot at the buzzer to make the halftime score 41-37.
“I have nothing bad to say about my team. They fought to the end, but they were just tired,” said Exeter head coach Luis Muro.
While the Monarchs were able to close the gap at halftime, they never could take the lead in the second half. That was due in large part to the Blazers’ adjustment on defense. In order to take Acosta out of his rhythm, which led to eight first half points, they switched from zone to man-on-man defense. It worked and held the junior to just four points in the second half.
With Exeter’s top player neutralized, Golden West was able to keep a comfortable lead through the rest of the game, leading to their win. Yet, Coach Hall recognized that if there had been a little more time left, the outcome could have been different.
On Tuesday night, the Blazers kept to their home stand against the Tulare Union Tribe. The final result of that game was reached after press time.
The Monarchs, on the other hand, will have some time off after finishing the tournament 4-1. Their next contest is not until their opening game of the Polly Wilhelmsen Tournament on Dec. 20.