By MATT SIEGER
Martinez Gazette Contributor
Martinez, Calif. – Alhambra High coach Chris Petiti, whose wife, Brittney, gave birth to the couple’s first child the previous day, didn’t hand out any cigars in the locker room after the game. Nor did he light up a victory cigar (anybody remember Red Auerbach?). But he was well pleased with the Bulldogs’(2-0) 60-38 non-conference home win over the Pinole Valley Spartans (0-2).
“It wasn’t the prettiest,” said Petiti, “but we made it difficult for them to score. They used a lot of the shot clock. We were playing at a slower pace, but we were being patient offensively, working for a good look, which is an improvement over what we’ve done. And defense is just a testament to their commitment, taking pride in that side of the game.”
The Spartans also hustled on defense, bringing full-court pressure most of the game. Neither offense found many open looks in the first quarter. Pinole Valley’s Jaeden Saiki and Alhambra’s Anthony Wong traded three-pointers to open the scoring. The Bulldogs’ Jalen Shepard made the Spartans pay when he canned a three after a missed steal attempt. But the score was knotted at just 9-9 after the opening quarter.
The Dogs went on a 7-0 tear to open the second quarter, including another three by Shepard. Wong, Ekbir Purewall, and Iverson Suisala also hit treys as Alhambra opened up a 30-18 lead at halftime. On the night, the Bulldogs shot 8 for 16 from three-point range.
The Spartans came out firing in the third quarter, with Saiki hitting another three-pointer. But Wong answered with his third three-ball of the night. And, after Alhambra broke full-court pressure, Shepard nailed his third three with just seven seconds left on the clock, giving the Dogs a comfortable 46-30 lead heading into the final quarter.
The referees were busy in this hard-fought game, and fouls were a factor for both teams. Shepard, the team’s floor general, got into foul trouble early, which limited his minutes. But Wong and Thomas Major did a nice job taking over the ballhandling duties.
“Having those two step in and fill that spot makes a huge difference,” said Petiti. “We were under control the whole game. When you have guys you can trust to bring up the ball against full court pressure, it makes a huge difference.”
More fouls filled the fourth quarter, but the Bulldogs extended their margin, with Lorenzo Fonseca closing out the scoring with a smooth steal and layup.
Shepard saw some improvement over the team’s opening win against Armijo.
“The first game we had some nerves,” the senior guard noted. “We were probably playing a little shy. We felt more comfortable in this game. We played really intense, we played with a lot of heart. We played for each other, didn’t worry about taking ‘me’ shots.”
Wong and Shepard led all scorers with 13 and 11 points, respectively. Alex Otis Jr. had 8 points for the Spartans, with Saiki chipping in 7.