2nd half rally falls short for Sanger West basketball

Hornets creep within 2 points in bid for first-ever NYL victory, end up dropping 61-48 decision against hot-shooting Torres High

Sanger West High’s Eddie Moreau secures a rebound during the second half of the Hornets’ 61-48 loss to Torres High in a North Yosemite League contest on Jan. 18 at SWHS gym. The junior forward finished with five points including a 3-point basket. (Jon Earnest)
Jon Earnest
Published January 19, 2024  • 
11:00 am

SANGER – The Sanger West High Hornets appeared to be in position for a milestone first during a North Yosemite League basketball game Thursday night, but the hot outside shooting of the Torres High Toros dashed those wishes.

Playing from behind the entire night, the Hornets (9-11, 0-6) closed within two points early in the fourth quarter before Torres (8-10, 1-5) hit one of its 11 3-point baskets to regain control and pull away for a 61-48 victory at Sanger West gym. The Hornets managed just two baskets beyond the 3-point circle as they were outscored 33-6 in that phase of the game.

Hornets coach Scott Spielman praised his team’s fight and grit, but said the shooting discrepancy was the biggest factor in the result.

“We did a better job getting them off the 3-point line in the second half,” he said “We consistently struggled to shoot at the 3-point line and we struggled to guard it, but our boys (continued to) fight until the end. It’s a game of runs and we just tried to keep ourselves close in the fourth quarter – we just ran out of gas a little.”

Ethan Williams provided the biggest defensive headache for the Hornets. The Toros senior guard scorched the net for five 3-points in the opening quarter, six in the first half on his way to a game-high 27 points. While he cooled off in the second half, fellow senior guard Enzo Cosentino picked up the slack with two of his four treys, both in the final quarter, on his way to 14 points.

Cosentino’s biggest basket came after Sanger West wiped out nearly all of a 13-point first half deficit and crept within 41-39 with seven minutes remaining. The Hornets had an offensive foul and two misses on its next two possessions, and Cosentino pushed the lead back to five with a 3-pointer with about six minutes remaining.

A traditional 3-point play (basket and free throw) by Williams and strong transition play by the Toros built the lead back to double figures. Sanger West closed within six points on a basket by senior center Angad Doad (team-high 15 points), but another Williams inside basket was followed by a 3-pointer from the left wing by Cosentino to make it 56-45 with a minute, 45 seconds remaining.

Torres then sank free throws down the stretch to pull away for the final margin. Arturo Corona scored all 10 of his points in the second half. For Sanger West, freshman guard-forward Kharon Parks scored 12 points including a 3-pointer during a third quarter rally while junior forward Eddie Moreau had five points and the team’s other 3-point basket.

Spielman said he’s looking forward to continued improvement from his team as it heads into the second round of NYL play with three games next week. Sanger West plays at Sunnyside on Monday, Jan. 22 before traveling to Hoover on Tuesday, Jan. 22 and then hosting Madera South on Thursday, Jan. 22 (all varsity games have scheduled 6:30 p.m. starts).

“Our guys are still young, we’re a new school still and the basketball IQ just isn’t quite there,” Spielman said. “We learn and get better every day. They’re working hard in practice and working hard in the film room. Our league is going to really prepare us if we’re going to have a chance to make any sort of run in the Division V playoffs.”

On Jan. 16, Sanger West lost by a 72-40 score at Fresno High (9-10, 4-2 NYL). Doad scored 16 points and pulled down 15 rebounds while dishing off a pair of assists while Turner had eight points and six rebounds. The Hornets shot just 28% from the field and were forced into 26 turnovers by the Warriors defense.

Jon Earnest