The Ceres High Bulldogs played the role of spoiler, breaking open a close game in overtime and pulling away for a 69-64 Western Athletic Conference victory.
“It took us way too long to get going on defense,” Patterson coach Agustin Arreola said. “We let Ceres start to believe it could win, and they never went away. They were the better team tonight.”
Patterson’s first loss since Dec. 21 dropped the Tigers (20-5, 9-1 WAC) into a tie for first place in the league with Central Catholic High of Modesto (21-3, 8-1 WAC).
Patterson traveled to play Central Catholic on Wednesday, Feb. 6, in a game that could turn out to decide the league championship. Results were not available at press time.
On Jan. 16, Patterson beat Central Catholic, the reigning WAC boys basketball champion, in the teams’ second straight meeting.
“The WAC title will be on the line — that’s when the cream rises to the top,” Arreola said. “We’ll see (Wednesday) who is the best team in the WAC.”
The first quarter Friday encapsulated the game, as the Bulldogs started fast and finished strong to defeat the Tigers.
Struggling amid miscues and turnovers, Patterson started the game 0-of-15 from the field and trailed 11-2 at the end of the opening period.
Ceres led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter (17-4), before Patterson finally got its offense in gear.
Then senior Keegan Sanchez (13 points) knocked down a pair of free throws and sophomore Kevin Phelps (seven rebounds) scored his team’s first basket from the floor near the 5-minute mark of the second quarter.
Patterson narrowly outscored Ceres 11-7 in the second and went into halftime trailing 24-19.
“Our guards needed to make better decisions. It took us too long to figure that out,” Arreola said. “We have too much talent on this team to play one-on-one basketball.”
Junior Cariaun Williams (nine rebounds) scored eight of his team-high 16 points in the first four minutes of the third quarter, and Patterson pulled to within one at 31-30.
But Ceres put together a 15-7 run and took a 46-39 lead going into the fourth period.
“Our kids were willing to fight and battle,” said Brian DeLaPorte, the Ceres coach. “We knew we had to control the tempo and slow things down.”
Still, Patterson opened the final frame with a 12-5 run, tying it at 51-51 on a Michael Smith layup with about four minutes left.
The Tigers took their first lead of the game, 60-58, on a pair of free throws by Smith with 1 minute, 8 seconds remaining in regulation.
A jump hook by Harmon Chung of Ceres tied the game at 60-60 with nine seconds left. The Bulldogs stole the ensuing inbound pass but squandered an opportunity to win it in the closing ticks, sending the game into overtime.
Patterson senior Skylar Job (eight points, eight rebounds) scored the first bucket in overtime, but Ceres outscored the Tigers 9-2 the rest of the way.
“We called this a ‘want’ game,” DeLaPorte said. “We asked ourselves if (Patterson) wanted the league title more than we wanted to give ourselves a shot at making the playoffs.
“We clearly wanted it more, and we were the more prepared team tonight.”
The Tigers close the league season with a home game at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 12, against Pacheco High of Los Banos (10-12, 2-7).
The JV Tigers won 72-37 at Los Banos High on Jan. 30 and topped Ceres 57-40 at home on Friday.
Against Los Banos, Patterson got 19 points and seven steals from Damarrio Hammonds, while Mylek McDowell added 17 points and six steals. Gurkirt Heerey contributed 16 points and five rebounds for the Tigers.
Facing Ceres, Hammonds (five rebounds, four assists) and McDowell (four rebounds) scored 18 points each to lead Patterson (8-2 WAC). Dylan Halland (eight rebounds) tallied seven points, and Heerey (four rebounds) and Devin Burnett (four rebounds) both finished with six.
The freshman Tigers beat Los Banos 66-36 on Jan. 30.
Avery DeHoyos scored 19 points to pace the Tigers. Teammate Adam Hansen added 15 points, while Michael Lawson and Kogi Ogbuli finished with nine each.
Patterson (9-1 WAC) also defeated Ceres 61-23 on Friday.
Lawson led the Tigers with 15 points. DeHoyos and Hansen each scored eight, and Hugo Gonzalez tallied six.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.