Victoria East’s Caden Williams felt a sense of deja vu Tuesday as he stepped to the free throw line.
With 36 seconds left in a District 29-5A North Zone game with crosstown rival West, the senior forward had another chance to ice the game.
Williams made both to extend the Titans’ lead to eight points at the time before running away with a 70-59 win to complete the season sweep of the Warriors. The win also snapped a three-game losing streak for East (17-10, 2-3).
“Last game, I did get a bunch of free throws towards the end. I didn’t make as many as I liked,” said Williams, who made each of his four free throw attempts. “A big turnaround for me, and it means a lot to improve and get this win.”
First-year head coach Ralph Almanza told his team they needed to win three of their remaining four zone games in order to have a chance at making the seeding games and, subsequently, the playoffs.
“Momentum is such a huge thing,” Almanza said. “So, getting this first win gives them that extra bit of momentum. I think we need at least two out of these next three to at least force a tie or maybe be in third place.”
While Williams set the Titans’ pace with a double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds, scoring from nine of their 11 players helped East reenter the playoff picture after the losing streak.
Nijahrell Prater was the lone other Titan in double figures with 10.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this in so many years,” Prater said. “As great as it feels, you have to move on to the next game. This game is over. We have practice tomorrow.”
East shot 60% in the second quarter on 10 attempts and 55% in the first half to take a 27-24 lead into halftime. East was also 75% from 3-point range in the first half.
The Titans finished the game 57.7% from the field, including 5 of 9 from 3-point. West (12-15, 2-3) shot at a 38% clip, including 35% in the second half to end a two-game winning streak.
“Basketball is a game of stops. Basketball is a game of runs,” said West coach Cody McDonald. “You allow a team to shoot 60% from the field, they’re going to beat you every time.”
West led 14-11 after the first quarter but missed eight of its 12 shots in the second quarter to allow East a lead it never relinquished.
“It’s disappointing because of where it puts us in the zone,” McDonald said. “We had a chance to stretch our lead and put ourselves into a seeding game. That’s our focus.”
District 29-5A North Zone - boys Victoria East 70, Victoria West 59
Points: (E) Caden Williams 12, Nijahrell Prater 10, Fernando Peña 8, TJ Vargas 8; (W) Jackson Hodge 16, Zo Morgan 16, D’andre Fillmore 14.
Halftime: East 27-24. 3-pointers: (E) Donovan Oliver, Peña 2, Bryson Ortega, Ben Sanchez; (W) Morgan 3, Jeremiah Baldwin 2, Shawn Mettey. Records: East 17-10, 2-3; West 12-15, 2-3.