Boys’ Basketball continue CIF after beating Crescenta Valley

Varsity boys’ basketball pulled through with an overtime win against Crescenta Valley in the second round of CIF, 70-65, on Friday, Feb. 19.

“[Winning] feels great. It was a hard fought team win and we never gave up and fought until the end,” shooting guard junior Ryan Dai said.

Forward senior Dwight Ramos led the Mustangs with 42 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals. Shooting guard Jordan Montenegro tailed with 16 points and two steals.

Walnut’s offense began slow in the first as they shot 4-10 from the floor and 0-2 from the free throw line. Although the boys drew seven fouls within seven minutes, on defense the Mustangs gave up 16 points and committed six fouls. The Falcons led at the end of the first, 8-16.

“In the beginning I think our team was just a little intimidated as it was our first game away from home for CIF and the opposing crowd was really loud,” point guard sophomore Adam Ng said. “The other team just started off with more energy and showed that they came to play.”

The Mustangs and Falcons started the second off trading layups, with Crescenta Valley scoring the first basket of the quarter and Montenegro returning one on a fastbreak. Walnut eventually caught up offensively going on a 6-0 run from the 3:05 to the 1:39 mark. Toward the end of the quarter, Ramos attempted the post and ended up drawing a foul, knocking down two free throws. Seconds later the Falcons responded with a buzzer beater ending first half, 23-27.

“Defense [was important]. We picked up our defensive intensity, forced turnovers, and we limited [Crescenta Valley’s] second chance points,” center junior Eric Song said. “The crowd got us very pumped up and it really motivated us.”

Walnut and Crescenta Valley traded shots with-in the first two minutes, with the Falcons starting off with a three and Ryan Dai parrying with a mid range jumper. Defensively, the Mustangs forced the Falcons to take outside shots, allowing Walnuts offense to gradually catch up. In the end of the third, the score was tied 43-43.

“I think we just need to stay confident in ourselves, stick to coach’s game plan and continue to work together as a team,” Ng said. “Coach always tells us to stay focused, and we stayed calm and were able to dictate the game rather than let the other team take control.”

Ramos stuffed another four points in the stat sheet, tying up the game 55-55. The Falcons then responded with a jump shot, leading the game 55-57 with 1:20 on the clock. Song put back an attempted three pointer tying the game, 57-57. With 12 seconds left on the clock, Crescenta Valley failed to complete an open three, which allowed the game to carry on to overtime.

“I think once we got down, we just had to dig deep and realize that it’s win or go home. Some players stepped up in key moments and that helped seal the game for us,” forward senior Alan Wong said.

Within the first minute of overtime, Crescenta Valley fouled Ramos, allowing him to score two points on the charity line. Before the 1:31 mark both teams were neck and neck, 61-61, until the Falcons committed its tenth team foul that pushed on to bonus. Walnut inbounded the ball immediately receiving fouls from the Falcons which led to bonus free throws. Ramos drew fouls on the inbound allowing the Mustangs to end the game, 70-65.

“I think we’ll do well. We’ll be more prepared and we’ll be ready,” said Montenegro. “This game gives us a lot of momentum and confidence going into the next game.”

Walnut’ will move on to CIF quarter-finals on Tuesday, Feb. 23 against Camarillo.

Written by Casey Lee, Staff writer

Photo by Aaron Yong