Troopers pick up a pair of wins

The Eastwood boy’s basketball team headed into day two of the McDonald’s tournament after losing the first one against Permian. They were set to face off against the South Mountain Jaguars from Phoenix, Arizona during the school day. The Troopers definitely received a spark from the loss the previous night as they won a close game, 48-47.

The Troopers came out on all cylinders as they rolled to a 10-4 lead capped by two three-pointers by Kevin Guereque on consecutive possessions. The Troopers led after the first quarter 14-6. South Mountain outscored the Troopers 13-9 in the second quarter, however, Eastwood kept the lead going into the half, 23-19. Guereque and Chris Nobles led the way with eight points apiece. However, the Troopers seemed to take their foot off the pedal as South Mountain had a big third quarter over the mighty Eastwood Troopers. The Jaguars finished the quarter off on a 8-0 run in the last 3:00 minutes. The score was 30-27, with the South Mountain Jaguars on top.

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Troopers talk strategy with Coach Gary Pippen during a timeout

The Troopers tied the game up two minutes into the last quarter with a put back lay up by Adan Vasquez after a missed free throw. The remainder of the game was like a tug-of-war battle, each team giving the other all they could, with baskets being traded left and right. However, team captain Guereque, who led the team in points with 12, changed the game rapidly when he scored a lay up for the Troopers. He ensuing throw-in he gets the steal and the ball in which increased the lead to 42-39. With 4:13 remaining, the Troopers looked to be in the driver’s seat. The Troopers continued to keep the lead, and with 20.9 seconds the Jaguars fouled junior forward Nobles which sent him to the line for two free throws. He went on to miss both and South Mountain rebounded and dribbled down the court and immediately called a timeout. With 17 seconds remaining and the possession with the Jaguars, things did not look good for the Troopers. South Mountain wasted time so they only had enough time for one shot. That shot was going to be taken by their point guard. As time ticked down to .02 seconds, he put up the shot, but it was blocked as it left the guard’s hand by junior guard Alan Rubacalva. This ensured a Trooper win as time expired. The Troopers were finally on the winning side of a one-point game, thus increasing their record to 2-3 on the season and 1-1 in the tournament.

Their following game occurred that same day, against long time rival Hanks. The Troopers came out and gave it everything they had against the Knights. They rolled on to win with a final score of 53-35. Led by senior forward Vasquez, with 16 points, he believed that the key to the Troopers’ success was that they “worked together as a unit and when we do that, nobody can compete with us.” The game however did start close, as the Troopers only held a one-point lead after the first quarter. The Troopers turned things around in the second quarter as they outscored Hanks 17-7 and went on to lead 27-16 at half. Senior guard Guereque scored 8 of the 27 points to lead all scorers at the half. The second half was completely dominated by the Troopers as they outscored the Knights 26-19 and went on to win by an astounding score of 53-35. One of the main contributors was Vasquez, who had an incredible second half and kept the Troopers rolling. During the game, all Vasquez could think was, ”We need to hustle and work hard all 32 minutes of the game, and if we can do that we will win.” In order to keep the winning streak alive, the Troopers "need to keep playing hard and as one unit.”

The Troopers finished Friday off on a high note with two wins. Now, with a record of 3-3 in the season and 2-1 in the tournament, the Troopers will face Bel Air in the semi-final game tomorrow morning.