It was a successful run for the Brawley Wildcat basketball 2015-2016 season, and the final week of basketball action could not have been any more exiting with the Wildcats earning a berth in the CIF San Diego Division IV finals on Tuesday night with a 62-54 victory over Vincent Memorial.
With the final held at University of San Diego’s Jenny Craig Arena, the Wildcats fell to the Mission Vista Timberwolves 67-55.
The Wildcats started the week going up against familiar valley rival Vincent Memorial in a much-anticipated matchup in CIF San Diego Section Division IV semi-final. The Vincent Memorial Scots boasted one of the valley’s most potent offensive attacks by senior point guard Fabian Arcinega and junior center Alejandro Olvera. The Scots, though not competitors in IVL, faced and defeated two IVL squads throughout the year including Southwest High and Calexico High, but lost to Brawley by ten earlier in the year.
The matchup was what any fan of basketball hoped for as both Vincent Memorial and Brawley faithful packed the Brawley High School gym, witnessing one of the most anticipated playoff games between two valley teams.
In the first half neither squad could separate themselves from the other as Brawley jumped out to a six point lead early behind a strong first quarter offensive by Adalberto Lopez, only then to have Vincent jump out to an eight point lead halfway through the second behind Alejandro Olvera’s offensive production from inside the paint. The lead would not hold up long as the Wildcats clawed their way to only a three-point deficit, down 27-30 heading into the half.
In the third quarter though the Wildcats pulled away with a 17-4 run where once again their well timed defensive pressure forced offensive turnovers for the Scots. Up 44-34 the Wildcats cruised to an eight point victory over the Scots punching their ticket to the CIF Division San Diego Section Division IV final against the Mission Vista High Timberwolves.
Leading the Wildcats in scoring was Adalberto Lopez who finished with 17 points in the semi final contest followed by Isaiah Bustamante who finished with 16 points.
“The press in the third quarter broke open a tight game between two evenly matched teams,” said Brawley High Head Coach Jeffery Deyo of the win over Vincent Memorial.
“We never looked back and it was a great team win.”
The Wildcats then moved along to their toughest test of the season facing off against Mission Vista boasting a line-up with a significant size advantage led by seniors Burke Twymann (6’8), Alex Rodriguez (6’5), and Tyler Jones (6’6).
The Timberwolves were ready to pounce out the gate as they jumped out to a 30-10 lead behind a big day from Burke Twymann (26 points) but a ten point run from the Wildcats got them to within 10, early in the third quarter. Later in the third, a Kyle Kieldsen three pointer and an Isaiah Bustamante basket found the Wildcats within six points of the Timberwolves 31-37. That was as close as the Wildcats came as the Timberwolves finished the third quarter on a 16-2 run. By the end of the fourth the final score would read 67-55.
Although the season ended with a loss in the division IV finals the Wildcats run was one of more ups than downs, great senior leadership as well as learning experiences for many young players.
“When we failed to make the tournament last year, we committed to working to become CIF champions this season. We failed. But we will work even harder to capture that CIF championship and then make a serious run on the state championship,” said Deyo.
The Wildcats will return eleven players next year from this year’s CIF San Diego Section Division IV finalist team.
“The sky is the limit for this team. We lose two great seniors, but return five juniors, five sophomores and one freshman, which all had strong contributions this year on varsity. We also had a strong jv team and the competition for meaningful playing time should produce an incredible team,” said Deyo of the opportunities for the young Brawley squad for the coming year.