Dinuba boys dominate 2nd half, bury Hanford

Emperors’ 34-13 run in final 16 minutes breaks game open and leads to sixth consecutive West Yosemite League victory

Dinuba High’s Diego Tuttle pump fakes a pass during the second half of the Emperors’ 57-34 victory over Hanford High on Jan. 26. The senior scored 11 points, including three 3-point baskets, as Dinuba improved to a perfect 6-0 in West Yosemite League play. (Jon Earnest)
Dinuba High’s Diego Tuttle pump fakes a pass during the second half of the Emperors’ 57-34 victory over Hanford High on Jan. 26. The senior scored 11 points, including three 3-point baskets, as Dinuba improved to a perfect 6-0 in West Yosemite League play. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published January 29, 2024  • 
11:00 am

HANFORD – Dinuba High’s “big three” powered a dominating second half road performance Friday night, which tightened the Emperors’ grip on a potential West Yosemite League boys basketball championship.

Seniors Javier Torres and Brice Watley along with junior Josiah Ochoa combined for 28 points as Dinuba (21-3, 6-0) outscored Hanford High 34-13 in the final 16 minutes, limiting the Bullpups to just three points in the fourth quarter while rolling to a 57-34 victory at Hanford High gym.

The Emperors enter the final four-game stretch of WYL games with a two-game lead over second place Lemoore (17-8, 4-2), and will play at the Tigers on Thursday, Feb. 1 at 7:15 p.m. Heading into a Jan. 30 home game with Tulare Western, the Emps ran their win streak to nine games.

“We know in the last four games every one’s going to be tough, so we’ll be ready for each one as we go,” said DHS coach Jeff Schofield.

Torres delivered in a big way against Hanford, scoring 13 of his 23 points in the second half and finishing the night with 11 rebounds and three assists. The senior guard-wing scored seven points in the third quarter while Ochoa had seven of his 11 points and senior Diego Tuttle drained two of his three 3-pointers in a 22-10 run. Watley had four points of his 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while dishing off six assists.

“Javier, he and Brice really give us senior leadership,” Schofield said. “We felt like we were in a good spot (entering the second half), and we knew we would eventually hit some shots. We did, and we were able to keep getting a stop. So it worked out.”

Dinuba High’s Josiah Ochoa (3, center), Brice Watley (23) and Michael Espirito (0) set up in a zone defense as Hanford High’s Kourday Glass (3) dribbles into the front court during the first half of the Emperors’ 57-34 victory on Jan. 26. Dinuba held the Bullpups to just three points in the final quarter while outsourcing Hanford 34-13 in the second half. (Jon Earnest)

A Tuttle 3-pointer sandwiched by two baskets helped Dinuba jump to a 10-point lead early in the third before Kourday Glass sank a pair of 3-pointers to bring the Bullpups within 31-27. But Dinuba took control from there, going on an 11-2 run for a 42-29 lead. A Glass layup made it 42-31 late in the third, but that would be the final points Hanford would score for nearly a quarter.

Torres sank a long 3-pointer to beat the third quarter buzzer for a 45-31 lead, and the Emps onslaught continued early in the fourth. Ochoa sank a jumper in the lane, Watley fed Torres for a layup and Torres then returned the favor with a sharp bounce pass to Watley for a layup and 20-point lead. The lead grew to 26 points when Torres fed Ochoa for another layup and then added two more layups to cap off a 15-0 surge.

Schofield then brought in subs to close out the game, and Hanford ended its scoring drought with a 3-pointer from Anthony Perryman. Tuttle finished with a personal season-high 11 points while Glass led Hanford scoring with 17 points.

On Jan. 24, Dinuba jumped to a 17-8 lead after one quarter and increased it the rest of the way to post a 72-40 home rout of Mission Oak (11-14, 1-5). Torres had 11 of his 21 points in the third quarter while Watley scored 12 of his 20 points in the first half and finished with 11 rebounds.

Michael Espirito finished with 10 points as nine different Dinuba players scored, while Daniel Gonzalez led Mission Oak with 11 points.

Jon Earnest
Reporter