By Miguel A. Melendez Staff Writer
ALHAMBRA — The forecast may have indicated clear skies on Friday night, but it was raining 3s inside Alhambra High School’s gym.
Keppel’s Matt Low hit five 3-pointers en route to a game-high 30 points as the Aztecs buried Alhambra for a 62-49 Almont League win.
Keppel (15-8, 5-1) hit 12 of 20 3-pointers and Alhambra (9-11, 2-3) never came close to matching the Aztecs’ efficient shooting from the perimeter, much less defending it. Keppel had open looks, and it gradually got better for the Aztecs, to the point that Low and Garrett Masada, who hit four 3-pointers to finish with 16 points, made the extra effort for step-back jumpers from beyond the arc.
“What we try to do is if we find a hot guy we try to run more sets for him and isolate him,” Keppel coach Hung Duong said.
It’s the third straight game Keppel has hit at least 10 3-pointers, and to no one’s surprise has won in convincing fashion. The Aztecs shot 6 of 10 from the 3-point line in the first half.
“After you hit one or two threes you have to play better defense than that,” Alhambra coach Robert Blanchard said. “They shot exceptionally well, but we could have played a little better defensively.”
Alhambra’s Miles Ford scored a team-high 14 points and Aaron Cosme, who played for the first time after missing two games because of a head injury, added nine points.
The Moors not only struggled matching Keppel from the 3-point line they also couldn’t establish a post presence dispite several mismatches, and with it the game slipped away.
“They just beat us physically to the spots,” Blanchard said. “We had a hard time executing our offense that way. When we started attempting to match them with outside shots it was out of frustration, guys not getting into open spots and instead forcing shots.
“Our game plan was to get the ball inside, but part of the problem was our bigs didn’t demand it enough and get in position. We were a step slow.”
Keppel took a 35-23 at the half and led by as much as 53-31 on Adam Thompson converted a free throw with 25.5 seconds left in the third quarter. In that quarter, Alhambra converted 2 of 6 three-point attempts from Kevin La and Cosme, who hit it as time expired. The Moors finished 4 of 16 from the 3-point line.
Keppel’s success running the floor and its full-court press was too much for Alhambra to handle as fatigue clearly set it late in the third quarter.The Moors at one stretch missed four consecutive layups on two possessions with under a minute left in the third quarter. And Alhambra still struggled defending the 3-point play as Low twice was fouled behind the 3-point line. Much to Duong’s chagrin, Low only hit one-of-6 free throws.
Still, the chess game was set, and Keppel took Alhambra out of its element.
“I think Alhambra’s more of a deliberate type of offense,” Duong said. “They like to make us play a half-court game, but they got caught in the running game with us and that’s our type of game.”