EL CENTRO — Central Union High School hoops tipped-off the Deon Staton IVL era with a regular season home-opening dub over Palo Verde Tuesday, January 10, in a contest where the Spartans secured a 58-52 victory.
The Yellowjackets wasted no time in getting on the board as Palo Verde struck first for a 2-0 lead with a bunny lay-in.
Central answered back on the next possession with a three pointer from the left corner.
Both units continued to exchange blows until the final minute of the first quarter when the Yellowjackets closed out the period on a 5-0 run. Palo Verde led 17-11 at the end of the first quarter.
Central’s Jared Martin knocked down a free-throw early on in the second period but the Yellowjackets stung back with another min-run by way of back to back paint buckets.
Down 21-12 with 4:33 remaining before halftime Martin tacked on four more points to his stat-line with back to back pull-up jumpers which cut the margin to 21-16.
Seth Johnson chimed in on the action for the Spartans with consecutive buckets of his own via euro-step drive followed by a leaning lay-in. On the same play Palo Verde was called for a technical foul. Martin sank the two foul-shots which gave Central a 23-21 lead with 2:10 to go in the second quarter.
The Spartans utilized 15-0 run that spanned over five minutes which bled a 27-21 lead to 44 seconds left in the half before the Yellowjackets stopped the hemorrhaging with a put-back layup.
Palo Verde executed a back-door dish and dink for the final score of the first half. Central led 27-25 at intermission.
The third quarter the remained tight as Central could never stretch the lead further than two possessions. Each time the Spartans would nail a trey or jumper, the Yellowjackets would drain a paint-bucket or three-ball of their own.
The scoreboard read 42-36 in favor of the Spartans heading into the fourth quarter.
Central switched out of man-to-man early on in the first half and the Spartan’s zone defense began to fatigue Palo Verde late in the game the Yellowjackets began to settle for low percentage looks.
Jacob Vargas caught fire with Central’s first six points of the final period which made it a double-digit contest at 48-38 in favor of the Spartans with 6:14 to go in the game.
Palo Verde buckled down after a time-out and went back to work with the inside-out game which spawned a 5-1 surge and brought the contest back to within two possessions at 49-44.
The Yellowjackets continued to swarm and chopped their deficit to one point at 53-52 with 2:13 left to play on a three-pointer from the top of the key.
Palo Verde brought out their full court press but Martin weaved through the Yellowjacket defense and hit Vargas for a finger-roll on a base-line dime.
The Spartans crashed the boards in the final seconds of the game and did not allow anymore points throughout the remainder of the contest.
Proceeding two more insurance buckets, the final buzzer rang on a 58-52 IVL home-opening Spartan victory.
“It feels good but bitter sweet because we didn’t play to our potential tonight,” said Spartan head coach Deon Staton. “We got the win so I’ll take that. It was a hard fought game. I think we just got hit in the chin tonight but we took it. We’re usually out and running but we didn’t get there tonight. But I’m happy. We’re on a six-game winning streak, so I’m happy.”