CALEXICO — The Central versus Calexico boys’ varsity basketball contest came down to the wire Friday, February 7, in a potential IVL first place elimination game where the Bulldogs locked their jaws on a 52-49 home win.
The Spartans got on the board first, seconds into the game, when Khalil Wyatt served up an alley-oop to Jordan Reed who laid the ball in and tacked on a foul shot to go up 3-0.
Calexico responded with an 8-0 run by way of a base-line layup by Julian Beltran, a three-point splash by Fabian Reyna, and a fast-break finger roll (plus foul), which set the score at 8-3 Bulldogs.
Central cut Calexico's lead to 11-9 with 3:27 remaining in the first quarter when Wyatt knocked down one of two free throws.
The Bulldogs finished off the opening period up 16-11 as Reyna caught fire and dropped in seven of his 18 total game points in the first quarter.
Wyatt opened the second period with a short jumper, which made it a one possession contest at 16-13.
Central managed to hold the Bulldogs to only two made baskets throughout the entire second quarter. Wyatt and Reed combined for 12 points of a 16-4 run as the Spartans took a 27-20 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Both teams exchanged hay makers after intermission, but it was the Bulldog's who bundled blows on the hot hand of Aaron Tabarez who wet the net for seven third-quarter points with repeated fast-break layups and a big three-ball. The contest was knotted at 40's heading into the final period.
Calexico was tagged with a technical foul at the onset of the fourth quarter and Reed hit two free throws which regained the lead for Central at 42-40.
Tabarez let one fly from the top of the key that splashed the bottom of the net and put the Bulldogs back up 43-40 with 6:34 remaining in the game.
Reyna added a blow-by driving layup which put Calexico up by three. Wyatt answered back with an and-one put back for another tie at 45-45.
Tabarez scored on a steal and finish, followed by a pair of free throws by Beltran as the Bulldogs pulled ahead at 49-45 with 3:25 left to play.
More free-throw formalities and fall-away leaner by Wyatt set the score at 49 all.
With 1:08 to go, unfazed by the moment, Reyna hit nylon from three-point land, which gave Calexico a 52-49 lead.
The Bulldog defense stifled Central's final offensive possession and prevented a would-be game tying three pointer at the buzzer as Calexico held on to the 52-49 finish.
"We knew tonight was going to be a battle," said Calexico Head Coach Hugo Estrada. "We gotta give credit to Central's defense because they are tall and long, which makes it difficult to get open looks but our guys made the shots that we needed when it counted."
Calexico is slated to host Brawley Tuesday, February 11, at 7 p.m. at the same time Central faces off with Southwest at Spartan Arena.