MODESTO — At this rate, Ryan Green is going to cost Gregori High School a fortune in basketball nets.
Green, the second-year boys basketball coach, cut down the nets for a second consecutive season as the Jaguars defended their Central California Athletic League title with a 72-57 victory over Enochs on Thursday night.
“At this rate, it’s going to cost me a fortune in heart attacks,” said Green of a game that was much closer than the final score indicated.
Gregori broke open a close contest — neither team led by more than four points — with a 15-6 run to close out third quarter and take a 48-38 lead into the final eight minutes of action.
But Enoch’s wasn’t ready to surrender.
Daniel Gallego’s mid-range jumper just 18 seconds into the fourth quarter, and a three-pointer from Gallego about 30 seconds later halved the deficit. A transition basket and another mid-range jumper from Gallego made it 48-47 with 6:06 remaining.
But the Eagles were never able to tie the contest or take the lead.
“We forgot what we did best, which is play fast and play smart,” said Gallego, who finished with a team-high 14 points. “We didn’t play as smart as we normally do.”
In other words, with Gregori in the double-bonus, Enochs stopped attacking the basket — which could’ve resulted in buckets and/or free throws — and instead were content to hoist up three-point bombs.
“Those aren’t high-high-percentage shots,” said Enochs coach Randy Rubio. “You’re not going to keep hitting those threes.”
Gregori, led by 24 points from Juilian Brown and 18 from Carlos Hernandez, was able to weather the storm and knew it had another run.
“Without a doubt,” said Green, when asked if he believe the Jags had another surge left in them. “If we didn’t believe, we wouldn’t be in the position that we’re in.”
That position, in a nutshell, is this: two-time champions of the CCAL, 24-4 overall with a possible home date looming the opening round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I playoffs, which get underway on Tuesday.
Enochs, meanwhile, likely could draw a play-in game and then have to face two-time defending Northern California champion Sheldon on the road in Sacramento.
“The playoff experience is always valuable,” said Rubio. “There’s always something to learn. We’ll just go and have fun.”