EL CENTRO — The Southwest Eagles concluded their boys’ Varsity basketball pre-season Friday night in El Centro against the Cibola Raiders, losing 43-30 in a low scoring affair.
Both teams began by playing quality man-to-man defense that proved effective for over two minutes until Cibola’s shooting guard Ivan Galindo found C.J. Atherton on a cut to the cup, breaking the seal at 2-0 with 5:36 remaining in the opening period.
After a bucket by Eagles’ Emmanuel Lopez to tie up the game, Cibola scored three consecutive baskets on an Atherton driving layup from the right side, a runner, and a fast break layup by Galindo.
With a minute left to play in the first quarter, Eric Pompa (the Eagles’ leading scorer with 11 points in the game) made a finger roll, then Tyler Saikhon hit Luke Hoehl on the left wing to splash in a three and close out the final seconds of the period down by one at 8-7.
Early in the second quarter, the Raiders’ David Swearinger made a three pointer from the right side and Atherton put back an offensive board for the Raiders to pull ahead 13-7.
Then the Eagles responded as Ryan Silva made a put back and Pompa slashed through defenders to finish a lay-in, bringing Southwest within one basket at 13-11 with 4:53 left in the first half.
Cibola pulled away once again after scoring a free throw and two layups, but the Eagles clung tightly as Pompa dropped in a three and Silva made two free throws to make it 18-16 Raiders, with 1:25 before halftime.
Cibola would yet again close out the quarter on a short rally outscoring Southwest 7-0 in the last minute to take a 25-16 advantage into the locker room at the half.
In the third quarter, the ball appeared bigger than the basket for both teams as great looks and open shots would rattle in and out, hitting everything but the bottom of the net.
The Raiders were able to muster up 10 points for the period, in the meantime holding the Eagles to only four as the lead stretched to 35-20 at the end of the third.
Southwest held Cibola to single digits, but offensive struggles continued in the final period. A fourth quarter 10 point output was not enough to stop the bleeding from the third quarter gash as the scoreboard read 43-30 in favor of Cibola at the final buzzer.
“Defensively today, I thought we were solid holding a team like that to only 43 points,” said Ruben Valenzuela, Southwest’s Head Coach. “Today we just couldn’t buy a shot, you know, and we have those days. We moved the ball well, we passed the ball well, the only thing that didn’t happen was the shot didn’t fall. So I told the boys to let it sting tonight and tomorrow we have to go to work, because we have our first league game on Tuesday and we have to be ready.”