BRAWLEY — The 2019 basketball season has finally taken front stage, as the sporting calendar flips to the winter session. This year’s Brawley Wildcat squad has quietly put on a show in the early pre-season matchups.
In his second year as head coach for the Wildcats, Coach Robert Angulo Christensen and his staff have the team playing as a cohesive unit. Three different Wildcats have led in game scoring in the five games and multiple players in double figures to cap each game. The Wildcats have gone 4-1 to this point, including a win over the Rancho Mirage High Rattlers at the Rancho Mirage tip-off Classic last week.
The Wildcats had not beaten the rattlers since they entered the tournament in 2014, going 0-5 against them in the last five years. However, this year proved to be different as four Wildcats went for double figures scoring in the meeting, including seniors Charles Smith (24 points), Oscar Gonzalez (16 points), Matt Ortiz (10 points), and leading all scorers was Junior RJ Johnson with 28. The Wildcats needed every point as they took home the 88-85 victory in overtime. Johnson led the team in rebounds with thirteen, followed by Smith with nine. Smith led the team in assists with five.
“It’s no surprise to me that we’ve been fortunate enough to start this season off on the right foot because the boys have been putting in the work all throughout the summer and fall to prepare for this season,” said Christensen.
The Victor Valley High Jackrabbits won against the Wildcats. It was the Wildcats’ fourth game in four days at the tournament. It was their only loss of the season so far, falling 59-79 to the jackrabbits.
The Wildcats rebounded with an 87-71 victory over Cathedral City this Tuesday, November 26, a night that saw five Wildcats in double figure scoring. Oscar Gonzalez (15 points), Matt Ortiz (20 points), RJ Johnson (13 points), and Junior Frankie Lopez added 10 points if his own. Chuck Smith led scorers in the matchup with 27 points. Gonzalez led the way in assists with six, while Ortiz, Smith, and Johnson each added five of their own. Johnson led in rebounds with 10.
The Wildcats led 24-9 in the first quarter, but the Cathedral City Lions roared back to take the lead in the third, going up by nine. The Wildcats caught their second wind in the third quarter going on a 17-3 run to blow the game open. From there, the Wildcats cruised to the 87-71 victory.
The Wildcats are averaging nearly 75 points per game and will be welcoming back two seniors (JJ Fernandez and Jesse Gutierrez) to the court after the Thanksgiving break.
“I look forward to seeing the growth in this team throughout the season and it’s my hope that by league we will be gelling well together,” said Christensen.
The Wildcats will be hosting Desert Mirage Tuesday, December 3, with tip-off scheduled for 6:30 p.m.