Boys’ basketball closes out Diamond Bar

No empty seats. Loud screaming. Enthusiastic cheering. Bragging rights on the line. Pressure on the players. This is no laughing matter. It’s Mustangs versus Brahmas.

Boys’ basketball defeated Diamond Bar 84-76, holding off a late game surge by Diamond Bar to secure the victory on Wednesday, Jan. 7 at home.

“Because of the large crowd it gave us motivation. Diamond Bar played really hard, so we had to match that. We really felt the pressure on defense. They came out trying to trap us, so we were forced to pass the ball more. We could feel the intensity, but at the same time it kind of felt fun to deal with the pressure,” shooting guard junior Jordan Montenegro said.

Walnut came out strong in the first quarter beginning with a 7-1 run and ended with three 3-pointers in the last three minutes. While sharing the ball and getting six players to score, Walnut outscored Diamond Bar 23-14. Shooting guard junior Dwight Ramos and point guard senior Zuri Williams led the offense with 19 points apiece.

Walnut’s offensive drive continued into the second quarter. Ramos sat on the bench for the majority of the second and third quarter due to foul trouble. The offense had gone to several off-ball screens allowing three more 3-pointers, which included a pull up buzzer-beater from shooting guard senior Jefferey Huang to get the crowd excited to end the half with a 45-32 lead.

“We felt pretty good about the lead going into the second half. We knew Diamond Bar wouldn’t quit because it was a rivalry game. We had to built a secure lead to finish off the game,” point guard senior Michael Cruz said.

Momentum started to come for Diamond Bar in the third quarter as they took more aggressive plays into the paint, drawing fouls and allowing for three-point opportunities. The Mustang’s defense seemed to struggle against Diamond Bar point guard senior Tyler Ginyard, allowing him four visits to the stripe — making seven out of eight — and two field goals.

Diamond Bar was mountaining a comeback after being down 13, outscoring the Mustangs 24-23 in the third quarter, bringing Walnut’s lead down to two, 58-56.

“We got a little nervous, but not too nervous. We knew they were just going to make that one small run and we’ll bounce back and win the game. On the defensive we tried a lot harder like coach always says, if you want to win a ballgame you have to win it on the defensive end,” center sophomore Eric Song said.

As soon as the fourth quarter started, Brahma shooting guard senior Tyler Peterson tied the game at 58-58. At the second minute mark, Williams scored back-to-back 3-pointers to help give Walnut an eight-point lead of 66-58, giving the Mustangs some momentum back. Walnut forced three blocks and two steals, making it tough for Diamond Bar to score. However, the Brahmas wouldn’t give up. Ginyard added eight points to his previous 14, which helped bring down the Mustang’s lead to three, 73-76.

“We weren’t really nerve racked because we knew it was caused by all of our fouls. We knew we could come back and bring back the lead. The large crowd and all the loud cheering kind of just amplified us and gave us the adrenaline to want to perform a lot better,” small forward junior Gavin Rodabaugh said.

With a minute left, power forward senior Ryan Herrera came in the clutch with an offensive rebound and putback, boosting the Mustangs lead to five. Diamond Bar was forced to play the foul game and the Mustangs took advantage, knocking down six out of six free throws, sealing the victory for the home squad.

“Because Diamond Bar is our rival, we really wanted to beat them really bad. We’ve been rivals with Diamond Bar a long time so it meant a lot for the school and the student body for us to get out there and beat them,” Rodabaugh said.

By Jeffrey Tran, Staff writer

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