The Diamond Ranch boys basketball proved again it deserves the area’s top ranking, but Nogales isn’t that far behind. In a hotly contested non-league game between two league champions just before the CIF-Southern Section pairings are announced Sunday, the Division III-A’s top-ranked Panthers overcame an 11-point halftime deficit to defeat host Nogales, 62-60, on Thursday night.
Nogales had the ball last and opted to go for the game winner, but Randal Guillory’s desperate three-point attempt at the buzzer was short, giving the Panthers (22-4) a season sweep over the Div. III-AA’s fourth-ranked Nobles (22-6). “They’re a heck of team, especially in their building,” Panthers coach Loren Grover said. “We knew they were going to make shots, it’s just a matter of making those shots as tough as possible on them. I thought we did a great job of contesting them in the second half, and making them take a tough shot at the end. For us, the main thing is creating momentum heading into the playoffs, so this was a good win. You never like to go in with a loss.”
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Diamond Ranch 62, Nogales 60
California Lutheran at La Verne Lutheran, 7:30 p.m.
Bonita at Charter Oak, 6:30 p.m.
Los Altos at Wilson, 6:30 p.m.
Duarte at La Puente, 6 p.m.
Gladstone at Sierra Vista, 6 p.m.
Bassett at Azusa, 6 p.m.
San Antonio League
West Covina at South Hills, 6:30 p.m.
Rowland at Walnut, 6:30 p.m.
Glendora at Ayala, 7 p.m.
Diamond Bar at Damien, 7 p.m.
Chino at Chino Hills, 7 p.m.
Valle Vista League
Northview at Covina, 6:30 p.m.
Ganesha at Baldwin Park, 6:30 p.m.
Pomona at San Dimas, 6:30 p.m.
Note: All varsity girls games start before the boys games.
Nogales’ Aaron De Anda had a game-high 22 points, but 18 came in the first half. De Anda didn’t make a field goal in the second half, making four points at the foul line.
Guillory finished with 20 points, but the Nobles only made four field goals in the second half, which the Panthers played a big part in.
The Panthers’ 6-foot-10 center Chris Cunningham had another solid game, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Garrett Johnson had 15 points, but the big surprise came from Justin Benson, who nailed five 3-pointers to finish with a team-high 19 points.
“He’s really come on strong the second part of the season,” Grover said of Benson. “We have a lot of confidence in him and he has a lot of confidence in himself.”
After trailing 42-31 at the half, Diamond Ranch opened the third quarter on a 9-1 run to trail 43-40, then Johnson’s putback with 2:41 left tied the score, 45-45.
Nogales’ Gabriel Gamboa hit a big 3-pointer to tie the score, 56-56, with 4:12 left in the game, but the Panthers answered with six-straight points to take a 62-56 lead with 2:17 left.
“I just thought we were in a hurry the second half,” Nogales coach Ricky Roper said. “We have known all along we could play with them, so we’re disappointed we didn’t win the game. But the good thing was it wasn’t our last one, we have a week to get ready for the playoffs.”