Home Sports Local Sports Bobcats stage huge comeback; down Jal 52-50

Bobcats stage huge comeback; down Jal 52-50


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DEXTER — The Hagerman Bobcats defeated district foe Jal 52-50 in the opening round of the 51st Annual John Reid Dexter Invitational basketball tournament in dramatic fashion. Playing arguably the most exciting game of the opening round of the tourney, the Bobcats’ Osbaldo Najera drove the length of the court and fed a perfect pass to post Jose Jaramillo for the winning bucket a few seconds before the final horn.The winning bucket by Jaramillo capped a furious rally by the Cats who saw themselves dig out of a huge 16-1 first quarter deficit and scrape and claw to earn the improbable victory and advance to Friday’s semi-final round.

“That was our idea to put the ball into Ozzy’s hands,” stated coach Andrew Rodriguez of the final moments of the game. “I trust his decision making with the ball whether he chooses to shoot it or dish it off. He has proven that time and time again that he makes a good decision with the ball in his hands. The last 15 seconds, I told them not to panic because there is plenty of time on the clock. I figured they were going to put on some pressure, but the kids responded well by attacking it and the ball is going to find the kid working the hardest on the court and it found Ozzy and he saw a wide open Jaramillo who dished to…and, game over.”

The aforementioned opening quarter was dismal indeed as the Bobcats simply could not find an answer to Jal’s 1-3-1 zone defense and, when they did, could not get anything to fall. The Cats could manage only a lone free throw by Martin Trevizo with :38 seconds to go. The opening quarter was in direct contrast to their game on Tuesday at Capitan where they ran off to an early 23-6 lead and never looked back.

Coach Rodriguez was at a lost trying to describe the opening quarter that saw no Bobcat baskets. “Big difference from Tuesday night and I was kind of disappointed with that. We always seem to have one bad quarter every single game. We’ve lost games where we have tried to dig ourselves out of a hole. We responded well in the second quarter and we closed the gap. Everybody fights hard – they know their role on the team. They knew they were going to get back into the game if not win it.”

The Bobcats (7-7) started to settle down and attack the Panther zone in the second quarter. Jaramillo would come off the bench and score 8 in the quarter as the Bobcats were down by a manageable 23-13 at the halftime break.

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The third quarter saw Hagerman get on track offensively as they scored 24 points with a lot of them coming off of an effective press that led to numerous transition buckets.

“That first quarter was just our youth and inexperience,” said Rodriguez. “We have not seen a 1-3-1 since the beginning of the year and they were kind of taken aback by it – all the credit to Jal, they were very aggressive when they were in that zone. Once we got it figured out, our guys kind of calmed down and played the way we know how to play.”

Two fast break layups by Najera would cut the lead to 25-17 early and then later in the quarter the Bobcats would go on a mini 6-0 run capped by a banked-in three-pointer from the top of the key by Trevizo to cut the lead to 29-27.

The Bobcats would finally get their first lead of the game as they scored off of 4 straight steals for easy transition buckets and a shocking 37-36 lead with :34 seconds to go in the quarter. A late Panther hoop made it 38-37 heading into the final frame.

The game would stay very close throughout the first half of the quarter until Jal would go up 48-40 with only 2:51 to go. The Bobcats would score on three straight bombs to lead 49-48 with 1:25 to play. A Bobcat free throw with :29 seconds to go and a Jal basket with :16 left would set up the final play and lead to Jaramillo’s final bucket and a 52-50 Hagerman win.

The win sets up a third matchup with county rival Dexter in Friday’s 6:15 pm semi-final game.

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