Despite difficult season Woodlake’s Hector Magana breaks 1,000 point benchmark in junior season, loses in close game to Granite Hills
By Paul Myers
PORTERVILLE – In the same week where the Woodlake Tigers all but brought their four win season to a close, their top player gave them reason to cheer when he crossed the 1,000 points mark against the Corcoran Panthers.
Last Wednesday, junior Hector Magana brought his career point total to 1,014 when he dropped 27 points at home. Woodlake head coach Joel Chavez said it was a sweeter accomplishment considering how he was treated when they played Corcoran the first time this season.
“He’s an absolute athlete. He can score at will. He scored 38 against Corcoran [on the road] and he was the most hated player in the stands,” Chavez said. “He was getting cussed out and getting yelled at by parents. So to get 1,000 points the second time around against them that’s a big accomplishment for him. I know he’s proud of that.”
Like any humble player would, Magana said that he was hardly focused on the record, instead he wanted to win the game. Unfortunately they went on to lose 83-57.
“Yeah I was aware of the situation and what was going on…I was more focused on the game that day and playing. It wasn’t really that big to me [at the time] but it’s still an important accomplishment,” Magana said.
Chavez said that he’s glad to have another year with Magana, not to mention his twin brother Victor who has over 500 career points, for his senior year. And he could imagine how many points Magana would have if he’d started his freshman year.
“To hit it as a junior is an amazing feat. And if the coach that coached before me had played him as a freshman he would probably be close to 2,000,” Chavez said.
Magana only added to his career point total last Friday night when the Tigers traveled to Granite Hills for a fourth quarter thriller. He led his team in points with 25, but his most important scores came from the free-throw line when he sank two in a row to go up 60-59 with just over a minute left.
Granite Hills stole the lead back with a layup in the paint, something difficult for the Tigers to defend throughout the game. Chavez noted fairly that his defense under the hoop was a problem all night.
“They try to own the paint…they have the big boys. We are more lanky and tall than big and wide and that’s hard for us,” Chavez said.
By the time the Grizzlies were up 67-64 with under a minute left, the home crowd was rocking. Woodlake was forced to foul to preserve time, but they couldn’t make up the difference and lost 69-64. Nonetheless it was an impressive effort on the part of Woodlake who was only down 27-30 by halftime.
Magana came out shooting in the third quarter and hit one of his six 3-pointers on the night. After Granite Hills retook the lead 32-30, Woodlake’s Adam Ramero made an impressive pass inside to the leaping Derek Hernandez who caught the ball in midflight and managed to put it away for two points.
Unfortunately, giving up points in the paint gave the Grizzlies a 10 point lead with 3:28 left in the quarter, forcing the Woodlake bench to call a time out. Magana helped lead his team back from the breach by stealing a pass and taking it all the way for a layup. Woodlake was only down by five, 52-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Since the loss to Granite Hills, the Tigers’ last matchup of the season is against Farmersville tonight. While some might be ready to hang it up for the year, Magana said that he feels like the team was starting to find their groove.
“I think the way we are starting to communicate with each other. At first it was rough but now we are starting to communicate. We’re working harder, we were really messing around a lot [in the beginning] and we weren’t really showing any leadership at all,” Magana said.
But what’s missing from the program, according to Chavez, is some community support. If the Tigers are going to be successful next year it is going to take more than just the kids on the court.
“Getting those fans to understand that those boys they support in the fall are still doing something in the winter, and I’ve got to be honest that is probably the thing that bothers me the most,” Chavez said. “It’s only my second year here and it’s hard to put together a real competitive team in Woodlake because there isn’t a lot of support. Our home games feel like away games. Our away games feel like away games. Our tournaments feel like away games.”