Brawley Wildcats advance to basketball CIF finals

Brawley Wildcat Adalberto Lopez (#12) drives in for a jump shot in a semi-finals game against the Southwest Eagles.

BRAWLEY — The Brawley Wildcats hosted the Southwest Eagles in a CIF semi-finals game resulting in an epic battle with Brawley finally securing a spot in the CIF finals after a nail-biting defeat of the Eagles, 61-58.

Both teams battled back and forth during the first quarter and the Eagles led the Wildcats 18-17 at the end of the first.

The Wildcats pushed back in the second quarter and obtained a five point lead over the Eagles, with a score of 27-22. Brawley added to their lead with Jonathan Zarate (#24) snagging his own rebound for a successful layup. The Eagles bounced back with Rven Silva (#15) driving into the key for a layup, while drawing a personal foul for one successful free throw, bringing the score to 29-25.

As the second quarter progressed, the Wildcats distanced themselves from the Eagles with a long three-pointer by Isaiah Bustamante (#44), giving Brawley a six point lead. The score was 38-32 going into halftime.

In the opening minutes of the third quarter, the Wildcats’ Adamberto Lopez (#12) got a steal and drove down the court for a layup. The Eagles answered with a layup by Tyler Saikhon (#3) who was fouled on his shot and made a successful and-one free throw. The score was 44-35. Saikhon got another personal foul call, resulting in two good free throws that gave the Eagles a score of 37.

Heading into the later minutes of the the third quarter, the Wildcats pushed forward with clean shots from Lopez and Casey Kline (#44), bringing the Wildcats’ score to 49.

The Eagles’ Eric Pompa (#1) made it a two-point game with a drive into the key for a layup. Southwest closed out the third quarter with a pass from Saikhon to Grant Hansink (#26) for a jump shot on the left side of the basket, tying the game at 49.

In a quick start of the fourth quarter, Hansink rebounded a missed shot by Saikhon for a layup, giving the Eagles the lead. The Wildcats answered with Lopez being sent to the free throw line on a personal foul call for one good free throw, bring the score to 51-50, in favor of the Eagles.

Both teams fought through the fourth quarter trading shots that made it a close, exciting game. With two minutes left on the clock, Brawley’s Joel Barriqa (#30) made a jump shot. On the next possession, the Wildcats’ Bustamante rebounded and passed to Lopez for a layup, giving the Wildcats a one-point lead with a score of 59-58.

The Wildcats followed with a steal by Lopez from Saikhon that ended in a layup that secured the win for Brawley with a final score of 61-58.

“This was a hard-fought game against the Eagles, but we were able to come out in the second half and play our game,” said Jeff Deyo, head coach of the Wildcats.

The Wildcats will move on to face Chula Vista’s Olympian High School March 3 for the CIFDS Division IV finals.