Enochs High built a 12-point lead late in the third quarter of its Modesto Metro Conference boys basketball game against Johansen, then nearly fell apart before pulling away at the free-throw line, 61-52, on Monday.
“We let them get back to within two,” said Eagles coach Randy Rubio, whose team led by a dozen with about 2 minutes remaining in the third but found itself ahead 54-42 with 1:39 left in the game. “In other games, we would’ve lost it, but we kept our composure and hit our free throws down the stretch. That was key.”
In the fourth quarter, Enochs was 9 of 14 from the line, including 5 of 8 in the final 43 seconds to make the game appear more lopsided than it actually was. The Vikings, on the other hand, were just 1 of 6 from the stripe in the fourth quarter.
“We did a lot of little things tonight that’ll get you beat,” said Johansen coach Allan Davis. “Free-throw block-outs are one thing; not talking through screens is another. Coming out of a huddle and not covering a guy downcourt who’s standing wide open … normally the kids are prepared, but sometimes there are lapses.”
The Vikings closed the third quarter with a 5-2 mini-run to make 44-35 heading into the final eight minutes. Senior guard Chantz Sabaniano opened the quarter with a 3-pointer to cut the margin to six. Sabaniano made a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, as did sophomore guard Maurice Woods, who hit his second with 2:44 remaining to make it 54-50.
After an empty possession by the Eagles and a tip-in bucket by the Vikes narrowed the gap to two, Enochs’ Aurwinder Sangha went to the line with 42.7 seconds remaining. Sangha hit one free throw to make it 55-52.
Johansen still had a shot.
“It came down to that last possession,” said Davis, whose team’s playoff hopes took a severe hit by falling 11/2 games behind idle Gregori. “We were trying to get a quality look and we didn’t quite get that.
“They made their free throws down the stretch; you have to give them credit.”
Sangha, who has battled a lower leg injury for much of the season, was held to just two points in the teams’ first meeting — a 66-58 Johansen victory on Jan. 22. Sangha had 19 points on Monday, 13 coming in the second half. Matthew Page, who made eight out of 10 shots from the free-throw line, finished with 10 points.
Woods led all scorers with 24 points, while Sabaniano finished with 14.