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Sandcrabs take over district lead with win over Titans

By aalvarado
Jan. 25, 2012 at midnight
Updated Jan. 24, 2012 at 7:25 p.m.

Victoria East's Cole Wozniak grabs a defensive rebound from Calhoun's Lorenzo Resendez during the second half of Tuesday night's game at Victoria East. The Sandcrabs beat the Titans 55-42 on Tuesday to take sole possession of the District 30-4A lead.

Last summer while many Calhoun students were on the couch playing video games or hanging out, senior point guard Dylan Saenz was in the gym shooting 100 shots a day from the same spot.

Saenz showed off his shooting prowess at the Victoria East gym on Tuesday night.

He scored 15 of his game-high 22 points from beyond the arc to lead the Sandcrabs to a 55-42 win over defending District 30-4A champion East.

"Hard work pays off," Saenz said.

Calhoun (23-3) gained sole possession of first place in district with a 4-0 record. The Titans dropped to 16-11 overall and 3-1 in district.

Calhoun coach Sonny Benefield said Saenz was a different player when the Sandcrabs began practicing this fall and that is reflected in the record.

"He's improved his shot tremendously, he shoots it when he's supposed to shoot it and he drives when he's supposed to drive," Benefield said. "It's a prime example, the more you can shoot quality shots, the better shooter you're going to become."

For two seasons, junior post Isaac Cardona was the go-to player for the Sandcrabs.

His presence helped Calhoun make the playoffs a season ago, but if the Sandcrabs are going to win a playoff game this season, another scorer had to emerge.

The Titans, like most of Calhoun's opponents, clamped down on Cardona in the post, but Saenz stepped up.

"If you told me that we would've held Isaac Cardona to five points and forced 21 turnovers, I'd say we would've won that game," said East coach John Grammer.

After connecting on his first 3-pointer midway through the first quarter, Saenz hit three more before halftime.

"Once I hit that first one I got into a rhythm and they seemed like the first one over and over," Saenz said.

The teams headed into the locker rooms tied at 25, but the Sandcrabs dominated the second half.

Saenz and Ryan Jackson combined to hit three 3-pointers in the first 3:18 of the second half to put Calhoun ahead 31-28.

Defensively, Calhoun improved on its backside defensive help, forcing East to turn the ball over and rush some shots.

In the second half, the Titans made just 6-of-20 shots.

Despite its struggles, Xavier Ellis' bucket in the paint cut the Calhoun lead to 46-37 with 3:46 remaining.

But Calhoun closed out the game thanks to Lorenzo Resendez.

Resendez scoed seven straight points in 32 seconds.

When East's Cole Wozniak was called for a five-second violation on an inbound call with less than 2 minutes left, Calhoun led by 15 and ran out the clock.

"When we needed big baskets we were kind of hesitant," Grammer said. "We just have to learn from it."

Devin Harris led the Titans with 11 points, while Wozniak and Ian Sharpless had nine points apiece.

Resendez added nine points for the Sandcrabs as he, Saenz and Jackson combined to hit nine three-pointers.

"I know my team can always step up," Cardona said. "I only had five or six points tonight, but I was dishing and I knew they were going to step up and make their shots."

With six district games remaining, Grammer knows it's too early to concede anything.

"Last year we didn't go through the district undefeated and we still won," Grammer said.

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