This is what the district has been waiting for, and hoping against. Tuesday the Jags woke up, and the poor Bears of P-SJ-A were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Employing their length and athleticism in a nasty trapping defense, Econ blew P-SJ-A out of the water, leading 34-2 at one point en route to a devastating 67-24 victory at home.
The scoring explosion marked a 14-point improvement from the team’s offensive average coming in (52.4 ppg) and the highly talented Jags reversed a couple of patterns, exemplifying what they feel will be a surge to the top of the league.
They had been the league’s best early starter, only to have severe problems later in the nights, as evidenced by blown leads in their two 31-6A defeats. Econ had also seen a 25-point bulge melt away against P-SJ-A in the first round, when only a last-second rush kept the Bears at bay.
This time, it was no contest as the Orange swarmed with defensive hustle and effort. With long-armed defenders seemingly everywhere, the home side turned the Bears over, forced them into missed shots, and jetted the other way with the basketball, showing the easy, fullcourt freestyle jam that only they can execute, when right.
“We decided not to let them dictate the pace of the game this time,” explained third-year coach Carlos Ramos, referencing the first Bears-Jags encounter. “We have practiced the trap but we haven’t run it that much. But right now, I think it is the best bet we have to get things rolling, open it up, and use our athleticism.”
As noted, bad news for the rest of the crew in 31-6A, because when the Jags are running and gunning, they are hard to deal with. They sprinted the court all night Tuesday and also dominated the boards with five guys getting at least six rebounds. Saul Alanis led the way with 11 and also contributed 11 points in his best outing in weeks. Johnny Barrientos, coming off a 21-point, five-bomb effort against Memorial, scored 15 with eight rebounds, while the inside tandem of Rick Chapa and Aizer Cavazos collected 14 points and 15 caroms total.
It was 50-12 at the half, garbage time ensuing, but the Jags waited until the fourth to call off the dogs on D.
“That first one with the Bears still had a bad taste for us, so we wanted to make sure to keep playing and not lose the lead,” Ramos said. “If you notice, we didn’t shoot that many threes, like six in the first half. I asked them to attack the basket and use their quickness on defense, we were in a zone defense that can look like man, and this trap we used, well, we will probably be using it some more, because it takes advantage of what we do well.”
Every Jag was into the mix Tuesday, as the football kids (Pete Segura, Jose Castillo, and Omar Trevino) were terrors on the trap. Big man Saul Calzada, who enters to rousing cheers from the crowd these days, hit the glass and had a nice blocked shot. But perhaps the most encouraging sign from the one-sided night was the inspired action of Alanis, a skilled junior who has been up and down this season.
“He looked for his shot tonight, and that’s good, because we need him to do that,” Ramos commented. “The more he can do it, and continue to defend and rebound, it just makes us better.”
The win made the club 6-2 in 31-6A and clinched its 20th victory of the campaign heading into a vital road test Friday at North. The Jags dropped a 2-point decision to the Coogs during round one, coughing up an 8-point lead down the stretch.