Bonita Bloodied, But Not Bowed After Losing 74-66 in Technical Knockout

February 20, 2010
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Coach Eckler urges on his starting unit, from left on the bench, of C.J. Miller, Garrett Horine, James Northup, Tim Fassas and Casey Horine.

Coach Eckler urges on his starting unit, from left on the bench, of C.J. Miller, Garrett Horine, James Northup, Tim Fassas and Casey Horine.

Bonita was bloodied, but unbowed, losing in a technical knockout to Golden Hills 74-66, Friday night in the Grizzlies’ home gym.

The big blow came with Bonita leading 51-45 with 7:47 remaining in the final and fourth quarter. The team’s two stars, Bonita’s 6-foot-5 C.J. Miller and Golden Hills’ 6-foot-8 center Trevor Wiseman fought furiously for a loose ball under the Grizzlies’ basket. As Wiseman was trying to rip the ball away, Miller was caught flush in the face, breaking his nose and, for all intents and purposes, Bonita’s title hopes.

After a lengthy stoppage of play, Bonita was outscored 29-15, their long season over, their playoff run cut short by a freak play.

“Honestly, losing Miller to a broken nose was tough,” Bonita head coach Greg Eckler said. “He’s one of our scorers and one of the guys inside who we heavily rely on for rebounding, so when he went out we were absolutely tiny. I thought that really hurt.”

Everybody expected a fight going into the contest, and that’s what the players, coaches and fans got in the second-round match. Bonita came in with a 24-4 record and Golden Hills sported a 23-5 mark, including an undefeated season at home.

In the first quarter, Bonita showed nerves of steel, taking an early 17-9 lead behind the early pinpoint shooting of Tim Fassas and Miller. Fassas scored seven of Bonita’s first nine points. The Bearcats nullified the Grizzlies’ full-court press with their sharp passing and accurate marksmanship. Bonita closed the quarter leading 24-18, giving up a trey at the buzzer to the Grizzlies’ Corey Chasson. Miller led the Bearcats with eight points, including two three-pointers. Casey Horine also had a pair of buckets to go with his tenacious inside rebounding.

In the second quarter, Bonita extended its six-point first-quarter lead to 33-21 early in the second period before the Grizzlies’ full-court pressure and trapping started carving into its lead and forcing several Bonita turnovers.

“In the second, I thought we caved against the pressure,” said Eckler. “I’m not quite sure why because we were handling and attacking it so well early. I don’t know whether we got tired, but I thought we were subbing pretty good.

“When we handled the ball against the pressure we did real good, and when the guys got a little timid, that’s when they got the easy layups against us.”

At halftime, Golden Hills led 36-35, most of the damage coming from Wiseman, Taylor Stratham and Khatari Price.

In the third quarter, after being down by four points, 41-37, Bonita regained focus and caught the Grizzlies at 41-41 on baskets by Casey Horine and a putback by Garrett Horine. After a Grizzly free throw, Bonita went on a 6-0 run on baskets by Garrett Horine, Miller and Zach Brungard to lead 47-42. After a long-range three by Stratham, Brungard and James Northup closed out the scoring, 51-45, to give Bonita the same six-point lead it held after the first quarter.

Then just 13 seconds into the final and fourth period, Miller broke his nose, which sent the Bearcats reeling for a spell. Golden Hills caught Bonita at 54-54 on a basket by Price and retook the lead, 57-54, on a three-pointer by Josh Serrano. In trying to lock down and collapse on the towering Wiseman underneath, Bonita gave up some easy outside looks for Golden Hills, which it converted.

Yet, Bonita rallied again, counterpunching with a pair of free throws from Casey Horine and a basket by Northup, to trail by just a point, 59-58. After a jumper by Golden Hills’ Brandon Hale and another three-point bomb by Stratham, putting the Grizzlies up, 64-58, Bonita’s Jordan Butler tipped in a rebound to bring Bonita back within four, 64-60. Then came another three by Stratham and a deuce by Joe Darko, back-to-back haymakers from which Bonita could not recover.

A pair of free throws by Garrett Horine and a short baseline jumper in traffic by Northup edged Bonita closer, 71-66, but lack of time and playing short-handed for too-many valuable, money-crunching minutes finally caught up with the Bearcats.

“We showed a lot of guts and a lot of heart,” Eckler said. “When we got down, I thought we could have quit. We actually came storming back and took the lead by five or six, with I think five or six minutes to play. I’m proud of the way we fought back.”

On the team’s early start in a hostile environment, Eckler glowed with admiration. “Tim was big tonight and one of the main reasons why we handled the press well so early.”

But some things coaches can’t account or plan for, and they usually arise in the glare of the playoffs when least expected. Bonita played galantly, winning the battle of the boards and the fight for loose balls, out-quicking and stunning their opponent but unable in the end to overcome a tough and untimely injury in the fury of the fourth quarter.

While Bonita says goodbye to seniors Miller, Fassas, Eric Woodruff and Caelan Tiongson, a core unit stays behind, unbowed and ready to take on some unfinished business.

One Response to “Bonita Bloodied, But Not Bowed After Losing 74-66 in Technical Knockout”

  1. I think they were called Golden Valley.

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