By John Honell, Correspondent
The San Dimas High boys basketball team, bouncing back from a heartbreaking loss in its Valle Vista League opener, took a 4-2 lead at 5:19 of the first quarter and never was headed in a 57-41 win over Baldwin Park at Life Pacific College on Thursday night.
“You can’t think about winning league if you start 0-2,” Saints coach Bruce Robbins said. “If you do, you have a giant hill to climb. You have to win every game on your home floor to be in position to win league.”
The Saints led 37-32 early in the fourth quarter when they went on a 13-2 run to put the game out of reach.
Jordan Stokes scored on a fast break after a steal by point guard Ryan Occampo. Stokes then scored on a left-handed hook and Reggie Brown scored on an easy layup and the defense forced a turnover on an inbounds play to take control of the game.
“Jordan missed some easy stuff early in the game,” Robbins said. “We kind of talked to him, firmly, about that at halftime. We wanted to do some things to allow him to get the ball in position for some scoring opportunities.”
Stokes scored 12 of his game-high 20 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Saints. Brown added 12 points.
Both teams struggled from the floor in the first half but the Saints (5-4, 1-1) forced the Braves (8-5, 1-1) out of their offense and took a 24-18 lead into the break.
“We did a nice job of stopping their penetration tonight,” Robbins said. “We’ve struggled with that. We’re not as good at it as we would like to be, but we were better at it tonight.”
Stokes, Brown and Austin Barbato dominated the offensive boards for the Saints in the first half. Michael Cirrito hit a 3-pointer and had 7 of his 10 points before halftime.
“They got a lot of putbacks and second-chance opportunities,” Braves coach Israel Anguiano said. “We don’t have much size, so we’ve had trouble with our rebounding. If we can’t shoot well, it’s going to be a long night.”
The Braves pulled within a point, 17-16, at 4:54 of the second quarter when Marc Torres hit the second of two free throws.
Marc Nino came off the bench to hit a 3-pointer for the Saints, who finished the half on a 9-2 run.
“Our defense played well,” Anguiano said. “We forced them into shots they didn’t want to take but we couldn’t capitalize on the other end, so I’ve got to tip my hat to San Dimas. They were the better team tonight.”
Each team lost a starter to injury in the first half. The Braves’ Alexis Baron suffered cut over his his eye that required stitches.
Barbato, the Saints’ leading scorer this season, suffered an apparent concussion when he and Baron bumped heads.