Boys varsity basketball defeat Ayala Chino Hills in a showcase game

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Bruce Nguyen, Staff writer

Walnut Mustangs varsity basketball team won a boys showcase varsity game against Ayala Chino Hills Wednesday, Nov. 16.

The game opened with Chino Hills making a three-point shot, but soon after Walnut made a layup scoring. The Mustangs traded points between Chino Hills and gained a 11-point lead, ending the quarter with 29 points and Chino Hills with 18.

“It feels good when you come out and score your first point. You already know that you are feeling [good shooting,] so you’re just trying to get that next one off,”point guard senior Malik Khouzam said. “When you start making good shot[s] and try to keep that rhythm going you get [make more shots].”

It only got hotter in the second quarter, when Khouzam made two three-point shots in a row, increasing the Mustangs’ morale. It was a tough fight, but Walnut pulled ahead in this quarter, ending with the score of 55-31.

“I thought we played a really good second quarter, [and] I will say [the] second quarter is when we opened the game up and had a good lead,.” Head Coach Joe Khouzam said. “We play[ed] at our pace, we play[ed] fast, we move[ed] the ball, and we score a lot. I [also] thought we got to the rim, [and] made the right reads.”

In the third quarter, Walnut came in with confidence to win the game. But much to their surprise, Ayala Chino Hills wasn’t going to lose so easily. Chino Hills came in swinging, making multiple lay-ups and three-point shots. They would pulled in close to the lead until the Mustangs shut them down, scoring 68-55 and ending the quarter.

“[When] we came out in the third quarter, we were up big at the [first] half, and we went into the third quarter thinking the game was over.” Assistant Coach Michael Williams said. “But they made a big run on us and they had more energy than us, and we could have potentially given the game away.”

Going into the fourth quarter, the Mustangs came back with their heads in the game and further ahead in points, gaining a 20 point lead. Even after losing their star player Khouzam to a fourth foul, taking him out of the game,Walnut held firm with a fast offense and a strong defense, ending the game at 91-73.

“The purpose of this [showcase] game was to try to get our guys to play in a non-tournament setting so that we can show some colleges what we can do,” Williams said. “I don’t want to jinx it, but we have high aspiration on winning [the] league and making a deep CIF run.”