Gridley Herald - Gridley, CA
  • Lions, Wolverines open season in local battle

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  • The Live Oak High School Lions varsity basketball team had a stellar season last year, notching up 17 wins overall and tying for first in the Sacramento Valley League with a 10-2 league record. They were ranked fifth in the Northern California Northern Section Playoffs in Division IV, but their playoff run was short-lived as the Gridley Bulldogs knocked them out in the second round, 51-47. With players Romario Acosta and Aaron Pamma having graduated, the Lions know they will have to find players to take over the star roles. That task got off to a rocky start on Monday night during the Lions’ home opener against Biggs. Biggs came off a winning season as well with a 14-13 overall record last season, and a fourth place Mid-Valley league finish with a 5-5 record. Biggs entered the NSCIF Division V post-season at the No. 8 spot, but they also lost in the second round—in an 84-46 blowout by Liberty Christian. Monday night’s game was fast-paced and was packed with fans of both Live Oak and Biggs. The first quarter remained close, with Live Oak holding a slight advantage of 9-8 over Biggs after the first. Juan Castaneda and Andrew Perez were the lone scorers for the Wolverines with four points apiece, while Martin Robles led Live Oak with three points. Biggs picked up the pace in the second quarter, outscoring the Lions 10-5. Of the Wolverines’ ten points in the second quarter, Perez had eight. Troubles for the Lions continued in the second quarter after forward Brandon Harris was helped off the court with a dislocated kneecap. Despite shooting five for 32 from the field, the Lions narrowly trailed the Wolverines by just 18-14 heading into the half. Of that, they had made only one three pointer out of eleven attempts. In addition, the Lions missed six free throws, tallied only three assists, and grabbed twelve rebounds. Biggs held onto their lead through the third quarter after outscoring Live Oak 16-15. Perez fired on all cylinders, racking up seven more points in the quarter. Live Oak’s Steven Garcia and Tony Arellano combined for eight points for the Lions in the third, each scoring four. The Wolverines put away any doubts to rest of the game after outscoring Live Oak by eight points in the fourth. Perez finished the fourth with 16 points to cap off an incredible night of shooting. Perez finished with the bulk of the Wolverines’ points, more than half of their total, with 35 points. He commented after the game that he believed it would be a rough night after a cold start, but after about the fifth shot he knew he had something going. Juan Castaneda finished with eight points, while Nathan Callaway and Blaine Roles both had five points for the Wolverines. Castaneda led the Wolverines defensively with nine rebounds and three steals. Caleb Melton had eight boards, while Greyson Milburn finished with seven rebounds. Both Melton and Milburn finished with two points. Callaway finished with six steals and five rebounds, and Roles had four rebounds. Wolverines’ coach Greg Kitchen was pleased with the way his team opened the season. “We had a lot of guys just coming off football playoffs, so we were a little rusty to start off”. He said, “We played great defense in the first half, which allowed our offense a little time to warm up.” “We still have a lot of work to do and a lot to work on,” Kitchen said. “But we beat a good team, and I’m pretty pleased with the way they played." Rajveer Singh led the Lions in scoring with nine points. Live Oak finished with six assists, less than 21% field goal shooting, 50% free throw shooting, 23 rebounds, and 13 steals. The Lions and Wolverines have a shot at a rematch this weekend, as they will both participate in the Pierce High School Basketball Tournament. Live Oak will open up against the home team, while Biggs will take on the Honkers for Willows.
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