December 2, 2017. Morro Bay, CA. – Both Escondido (2-0) and Pioneer Valley (3-0) came into this game following narrow victories against Bakersfield teams. The stakes were high since only the winner of this game would advance to play in the championship game of the Harding Invitational Tournament.
It was a high-scoring, action-packed 1st quarter on both ends of the court that ended with 21 points for the Cougars and 14 for the Panthers. Both of the teams had more than a few turnovers, but Escondido did a better job of converting them into points. Jones, Fox and Barber each had 5 points in the period, while Burns was the high scorer for Pioneer Valley with 4.
Escondido started the 2nd quarter with an 8-1 run, increasing their lead to 14 and starting to make it look like a sure victory. But then Pioneer Valley had a 13-2 run of their own, including back-to-back 3-pointers. Escondido was nurturing a mere 3-point lead and a loss of momentum as they headed toward the locker room at the break.
Villa of Pioneer Valley came out of halftime to nail his 4th and 5th shots beyond the arc. His teammates, Ladan and Martinez teamed up for an additional 15 points. But every time the Panthers got close to taking the lead, the Cougars would counter until finally getting back to a double-digit lead midway through the fourth quarter. Jones and Hutchinson had a combined 19 points in the 2nd half, while Landry and Green secured 14 rebounds and 7 points. Final Score: Escondido, 66 and Pioneer Valley, 59.
Honorable mentions to Sauls (8 pts, 6 rebounds), Barber (7 pts, 7 rebounds) and Fox (8 pts, 1 rebound).by Rick Jones