By John Honell, Correspondent
COVINA – For the second consecutive season, the Valle Vista League looks like it will come down to the final week of the season before a boys basketball champion can be crowned.
Defense was the key for Wilson High School as it moved into sole possession of first place after a 55-36 win over Covina on Friday night.
The Wildcats (14-7, 7-1) avenged their only league loss of the season while dropping the Colts to 15-7 and 5-2.
“We both still have to play Northview, this isn’t over,” Wildcats coach Jason Rochwerg said. “Last year we were in second place going into the last game. With a loss we ended up in fifth.”
The Wildcats outscored the Colts 14-2 in the second quarter to take control of the game. Chris Sotelo hit two free throws at the 7:11 mark of the quarter for the Colts’ only points.
“This is our fifth (consecutive) game we’ve held our opponents under 40 points,” Rochwerg said. “Our kids understand that if we continue to do that the likelihood of winning is going to be a lot higher. I know we’re deeper, so we tried to press them the whole game and run them up and down the floor. Luckily they had an off night shooting and that helped, too.”
The Wildcats forced four turnovers and got defensive rebounds from J.R. Nelson and Josh Romero, and Bryce Kato hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to take control of the game.
“You have to give a lot of credit to Wilson,” Colts coach Will Bissman said. “We didn’t shoot
well, plus they played great defense.”
Kato was 4 of 6 from beyond the 3-point line and led all scorers with 15 points.
“We don’t know who our hero is going to be from game to game,” Rochwerg said. “Tonight he hit some big 3s in the second half, and that was the difference.”
The Colts went to full-court pressure in the second half, but point guard Ryan Del Rosario was able to beat it and get his teammates good looks at the basket.
“I call him the poor man’s version of Steve Nash,” Rochwerg said. “He’s really heady and even when it looks like he’s trapped, he makes something happen.”
The Colts struggled from beyond the 3-point line, making only 1 of 12 shots, almost all of them under pressure.
“We don’t normally play that kind of style,” Bissman said. “They played our 3-point shooters well and we tried to take advantage by going down low. We had a lot of shots but we shot about 20 percent. We had a big game on Wednesday against Northview, and I think the kids’ legs were still a little tired after that. To come back and play another great team is tough.”
Sotelo led the Colts with 14 points, and Edgardo Campos added 13.
Nine players scored for the Wildcats, with Nelson and Del Rosario scoring nine each.
Covina girls beat Wilson
The Colts held off a second-half rally by Wilson and won the battle for first place with a 33-32 win.
Karla Rodas hit a pair of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to offset two 3s by the Wildcats’ Jamie Hou.
Hou led all scorers with 16 points.
The Wildcats missed six shots within 10 feet in the final four minutes and could never get past the Colts.
The Colts (16-3 overall) improved to 7-0 in league, while the second-place Wildcats (16-5) dropped to 6-2.