BARSTOW • The Barstow boys basketball team made a nice run in the second half, but wasn't able to fully recover after a sluggish start, and lost to Victor Valley, 53-39, on Thursday.
The way the game went was a composite of the season as a whole, according to coach Richard Johannsen.
"Tonight was typical of our season," he said. "We play hard, but get ourselves into a hole, work our way out of it, then make some simple mistakes and get back in. It's been like that all year."
The game was a competitive one for the most part, which was a surprising turn after a bad first quarter for the home team. The Jackrabbits began the match with a 9-0 run, helped along by two 3-pointers from Evan Allen in the opening minutes. The Aztecs' Bobby Alvarez got his team on the board, working his way inside for a couple of field goals and five points in the first, with Barstow trailing, 19-9, at the buzzer.
The Aztecs weren't able to generate much more in the second. Two more buckets from Alvarez, a pair from Jeremy Johnson, and one from Phillippe Salawa was all they could muster, as they trailed by 11 points at halftime.
It was in the third that Barstow went on its best run of the night. The Aztecs collected three 3-pointers in the contest, all of which came in the third. Billy McCall picked up one, while George Morales hit twice from downtown. His second trey cut the Valley lead to just three points, which was the closest Barstow would get. The Jackrabbits had expanded their edge to five by quarter's end.
The Aztecs find themselves a bit thin on reserves as the season winds down. With a bench of only three players, compared to seven for the Jackrabbits, some Aztecs were on the court for every minute of the game.
"Our starting five tonight was quite a bit different than what it was at the start of the season," said Johannsen. "We've lost a few players due to grades and other issues, but the kids who have stuck it out are great kids."
Alvarez led the Aztecs with a triple-double, 15 points, 12 rebounds and 10 blocks. It was his second triple-double in only his fifth game played. The senior is better known for his work on the football field, and just this week signed to play football for UNLV next year. He played basketball last year, and decided to sit this year out, but joined up down the stretch.
"He wanted to get his football stuff in order first," said Johannsen. "When he had that accomplished and we were having player issues, he decided to play basketball, and he's been pretty amazing."
Johnson also did well, notching a double-double, with 10 points, 12 boards and five blocks. Allen's 12 points paced the Jackrabbits, with 10 points for Devondre Jackson.
Both teams were playing for pride, as neither will qualify for the postseason. The win puts Valley at 5-18, with Barstow at 3-18.
Despite the under .500 record, Johannsen is happy with the effort shown by his players this year.
"We've played hard and been competitive. We've had a lot of close losses," said the coach. "The guys that are still here are great guys. They're representing their school well."
The Aztecs have two games remaining. The last home game is next Wednesday against Granite Hills, with a match at Silverado next Thursday putting the wraps on the season.
Girls lose to Valley
The Lady Aztecs played at Victor Valley, and took a 36-26 loss.
It was a tough loss for Barstow, as it put the Jackrabbits in second place in the Desert Sky League by a half game over the Aztecs. Silverado, a perfect 10-0 in the DSL, is in first place.
"We came out and executed our game plan at first," said Aztecs assistant coach Marvin Ellis. "Then we started losing focus, and as a result, let them back in. We didn't regain that focus for the rest of the game."
Barstow trailed by just a point at the end of the first quarter, but the Jackrabbits' lead was up to six points by the half.
Marissa Dado led the Aztecs with nine points.