Golden West’s defense forces 12 steals in 44-38 win over Hanford West
By Patrick Dillon @PDdillon_SGN
VISALIA – The 68th Polly Wilhelmsen basketball tournament held a couple close calls for the Golden West Blazers, but on Saturday, the last day of the tournament, the Blazers were on the winning side as they bested the Huskies 44-38 to take ninth place.
“We really battled and ground it out, and that was a testament to the kids playing hard,” Golden West head coach Drew Hall said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got it done.”
Hanford West’s (9-6; 2-0) speed on the court outmatched Golden West’s (7-10). That advantage led to the Huskies taking a 14-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
After Golden West fell behind Hall decided to switch to a 2-3 defense. Hall’s decision made an immediate impact as the Blazers were able to close some of the passing lanes making it more difficult for the Huskie to drive to the basket. Golden West’s Auggie Aguilar and Matthey Delreal both had steals and easy layups which closed the deficit to just one point, 14-13.
“That switch was the game changer for us,” Hall said.
Golden West has had no trouble getting steals on defense, but the issue has been converting on a consistent basis. However, the Blazers must have found a secret formula. Minutes later another steal by Delreal gave Golden West their first lead of the game at 19-17. Golden West finished with 12 steals in the game.
“Delreal got a couple steals and that got us back in the game for sure,” Hall said.
Delreal did more than just get Golden West back into contention but delivered the game winning shot Golden West had built up a marginal lead after both teams were tied at 22-22 at halftime, but in the fourth quarter Delreal hit a three-point shot to give Golden West the lead, 39-35, with two minutes left.
Delreal finished with 11 points in the game.
The stingy defense is something Golden West will have to incorporate into every game for the rest of the season as they begin West Yosemite League play. This Thursday Golden West will return to Charles Marshal Court to face the Mt. Whitney Pioneers at 7:30 p.m.
“The defenses usually do well because every team in this league knows everyone so well,” Hall said.
Golden West had a decent, but difficult first round draw when they were paired up with the Monache Marauders. Golden West took the lead, 15-14, on a buzzer beater by Delreal at the end of the first quarter and never looked back winning 67-58.
In the second round Golden West faced one of the tournament favorites in the Mt. Whitney Pioneers. Mt. Whitney was coming off a 77-39 win over the Exeter Monarchs. Yet, Golden West held Mt. Whitney to more than 20 fewer points in their contest. Golden West even had a chance to send it to overtime, but Casey Hill’s three-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim and out. The missed shot resulted in the Blazers losing 53-50.
“We just defended them man-to-man and played hard,” Hall said. “We wanted to give a couple of their guys more attention, and we followed the game plan perfectly.”
On Friday, Golden West had a rematch against the Central Valley Christian Cavaliers with a chance to go to the fifth-place game. Golden West fell behind early in the first quarter and was never able to recover losing 54-38.