Brawley Wildcats take Pacific Ridge in CIF play-off

Brawley guard Adalberto Lopez dribbles through three Pacific Ridge High defenders to the basket Saturday. Photo by Gus Garcia.

BRAWLEY — The Brawley Union High Wildcats continued their run towards a CIF San Diego Section Division IV finals berth this past week with a victory in the quarterfinals over the Pacific Ridge High Firebirds.

“This was a solid step up in overall competition. They, Pacific Ridge, were tough and disciplined, very well coached,” said Brawley Head Coach Jeff Deyo.

After jumping out to an early lead in the first quarter, the Wildcats weathered the storm and rode out the rest of the game en route to a 54-41 victory, earning them a spot in the quarterfinal where they will meet a very familiar adversary in the Southwest Eagles.

The Wildcats jumped out to a double digit lead early, after two Beto Lopez three-pointers put them up 17-6 late in the first quarter. Brawley held a steady lead until the third quarter, when down 32-17, the Firebirds would climb back into the contest, going on a 10-point run to get them to within five points.

But a defensive pressure scheme and outlet passes off turnovers led to easy buckets for the Wildcats as an eight-point run carried them back to a 40-27 lead that put the Firebirds out.

Two straight lob passes from Moises Lazos to Adalberto Lopez for easy layups stamped the exclamation point on the game. This win gives Brawley another home semi-final matchup against a Valley team, this time against the Southwest High Eagles, a team Brawley has defeated three times during the regular season.

Leading the way in scoring yet again for the Wildcats was Adalberto Lopez with 25 points, followed by sophomore Casey Kline with nine points and five rebounds. Senior Isaiah Bustamante added 10 points and two blocks whle Moises Lazos contributed four points and five steals.

Up next is an Imperial Valley showdown with the Wildcats hosting the Southwest Eagles. Southwest has fallen short on three tries against Brawley this season, and each try has seen the Eagles inch closer and closer after dropping two close Imperial Valley League match ups, including a six point loss in Brawley after losing by 30 points against the Wildcats in earlier in December.

“It was a perfect lead-in to the third round matchup with Southwest on Wednesday at our place and it should be another entertaining game for fans,” said Deyo.

The CIF San Diego Section Division IV has been an interesting tournament specifically for the Imperial Valley as five teams from the area were in competition with four teams on one side of the bracket.

The semi-final matchup between Brawley and Southwest is scheduled for Wednesday night with a 7 p.m. tip-off time.