Beltran CIF

Calexico's Julian Beltran (#44) swings the ball around the perimeter in the game versus Central on January 29.

CALEXICO – Calexico High boys basketball team recaptured the winning formula in their final wave of games, having won five straight, including three consecutive Imperial Valley League victories. The Bulldogs have spiked their postseason odds.

Coming into IVL, Calexico had the strongest record and was projected by many to take the division based on the Bulldog’s pre-season performance.

But in the first night of IVL play, the Bulldogs struggled to find an offensive rhythm and Calexico suffered a 42-30 defeat to Central. A week later, the Wildcats came into town and edged Calexico in the kennel 68-62. In their first road game against Southwest, the Bulldogs came up one bucket shy of forcing overtime in a 47-44 heart-breaker.

After beating Imperial 59-54 during a cross-conference match-up, Calexico followed up at Central with a 72-55 blowout which netted the squad’s 2019 first league win and newly acquired head coach Hugo Estrada’s first ever IVL victory as a team skipper.

“All credit to my boys, they are the ones that work hard every day and they deserve this win. I could not ask for a better group of guys,” said head coach Hugo Estrada. “They are coachable. I’m proud of them, and all the credit goes to them.”

In their second match-up versus Brawley, the Bulldogs redeemed themselves in another close one — but this time Calexico came out on top 48-44.

On the final night of IVL action, Calexico took out the league champion Eagle’s in El Centro 56-47 to finish off the season in second place at 3-3. The Bulldogs added on another victory in the last non-league game of the season versus Holtville, 69-57.

Despite the first half of league play, the Bulldog’s early success and late-season run now suddenly has Calexico High basketball in the 2019 CIF post-season conversation.

“We’re a team that plays hard and plays with confidence, we’ve had some growing pains but that’s the whole point of this — to get better and learn from our mistakes,” said Estrada. “Whether we win the game or lose the game, what matters is that we play with pride, energy, and leave it all out on the floor.”

The Bulldogs will host El Cajon Valley on February 13 at 7 p.m.

Sports Editor

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