Coming off two wins in a row heading into the Dec. 18 matchup against Kennedy (3-5), Thornton basketball couldn’t preserve their 14-4 first-quarter lead as the Commanders came back to steal a home …
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Coming off two wins in a row heading into the Dec. 18 matchup against Kennedy (3-5), Thornton basketball couldn’t preserve their 14-4 first-quarter lead as the Commanders came back to steal a home victory, 55-53.
“We hit shots and got up and down the floor,” Thornton coach Bailey Clark said of the first quarter. “Unfortunately, I think we ran out of gas.”
Opening with a 9-0 run in the first four minutes and 15 seconds, the Trojans were clicking on all cylinders. Running a fast-paced offense off their active defensive effort, the home team looked stunned, accumulating only 17 points and trailing by five going to the break. Leading the charge for the Trojan’s, sophomore Tristen Rose recorded seven points followed by six and five, respectively, from seniors Anthony Sandoval and Lyndon Pacheco.
The third quarter, however, had a different drumbeat, and it started by Kennedy senior point guard, Ezekiel Estrada. The score-first guard tallied 14 points in the frame after scoring just three in the first half. Off one-legged, three-pointers, and an aggressive drive-game to the rim, the veteran, gave his team their first lead at 35-33 with 1:22 remaining.
“He (Estrada) was aggressive. He got into the lane, and I think he wore Sandoval out because he was guarding him hard the whole time,” Clark said. “Once that kid gets going, he’s tough to stop. I thought Anthony did a very good job on him, but he just made shots.”
Despite taking a 4-point lead going to the fourth, Thornton couldn’t hold on late after surrendering the lead once again with 4:05 remaining — never getting it back.
Clutch shots down the stretch from Commanders’ sophomore Adam Roybal (seven points) and senior Albert Ursetta (six points) put the margin at five with 2:47 left, and after one final push from the road team, the Trojans couldn’t climb all the way back, falling by two.
“We didn’t do a good job with the ball. We had some soft passes that allowed deflections, and we weren’t strong with the ball in the post. They were able to knock it away and get and run. They were more aggressive than we were,” Clark said.
Rose recorded a team-high 13 points as Pacheco joined him with 10 as the lone double-digit scorers. Senior Alfonso Salais and Pacheco tallied 11 rebounds apiece while Salais also led the group with six assists.
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