By Damien Alvarado~ The Conqueror Reporter
It was a nail biter in Pomona, between the Los Altos Conquerors and Diamond Ranch Panthers. The Conquerors came into the game ranked number one in league with an astounding record of 17-3, while the Panthers ranked fifth in league play, have a struggling record of 4-16.
The Panthers won the tip off which led to a quick 4-0 lead. Los Altos had a sluggish start to the first quarter, with the first points coming from the free throw line by Junior guard Julian Lopez. Diamond Ranch had an up-tempo offense and they excelled with the help of junior big man Bryan Hillard. He was single handedly out rebounding Los Altos and scored 12 points in the first quarter. The Conquerors trailed at the end of the 1st quarter 16-13.
Los Altos struggled to find a rhythm in the second quarter, not making a basket till the 5:34 mark. Towards the end of the first half both teams were trading baskets back and forth. Lopez drained two more free throws, which ended a sluggish first half with Conquerors up 32-28. This was not a half to be proud of as Los Altos shot a dreadful 32% from the field and were in foul trouble with a total of 11 team fouls.
The third quarter was a back and forth battle between the two teams. Diamond Ranch was out rebounding Los Altos which led to get great second chance point opportunities. Bryan Hillard of Diamond Ranch showed his dominance in the paint in the third quarter tallying 6 more points and 4 rebounds. Lopez showed his versatility as he drove in to the paint to give the Conquerors a 43-37 lead to end the third quarter.
Intensity in the fourth quarter began to show as Diamond Ranch’s Coree Joseph opened up the fourth quarter with a three pointer. The home crowd began to get into it as Diamond Ranch gained a 50-45 lead. With 4:15 to go in the fourth Jarod Lucas took the ball up court then dished it out to Senior guard Matt Arellano at the three point line. Arellano then hit a clutch three while getting fouled. He then drained a key free throw to complete the four point play to keep the Conquerors within one. With two minutes to go Diamond Ranch’s sophomore guard Garrette Parker turned the ball over which led to a foul on Lucas who knocked down two free throws to put the Conquerors up by one, 51-50. The clock was ticking, Panthers quickly scored retaking the lead 52-51. With 36 seconds on the clock Lucas finessed his way through traffic finishing the lay up, giving Los Altos the lead 53-52. Diamond Ranch’s Bryan Hillard’s layup attempt rolled off the rim as time expired. Lucas commented on his game winning layup saying confidence was key, ” I felt very confident, I just put in hard work and a lot of hours but my teammates set me up pretty good off of the screen”.
The Conquerors sluggish first half almost came back to bite them in the rear but they prevailed in their 53-52 victory over Diamond Ranch. Lucas commented, ” We just picked it up on the defensive end and we locked in on offense in the second half. The team did not necessarily hit shots but we scored more than we did in the first half.” Arellano commented on hitting his free throw after hitting the three, “Practicing free throws the day before definitely helped me knock it down and bring the score to within one.” Los Altos finished the game shooting 43% from the field. Matt stated, ” The game plan was to bring the intensity on defense and get more rebounds. Although they outrebounded us we came out with the win and need to focus on learning from our mistakes”. The Conquerors play at Walnut High School at 6:30 pm on Wednesday February 1, 2017.