Eagles top Spartans, 62-56, in boys' basketball
Southwest High's Brandon Martinez (left) and Central Union High's Demonte Reed leap for the game's tipoff Friday at Southwest in El Centro. (FERNANDO ACOSTA JR. PHOTO / February 2, 2013)
The 17-year-old Southwest High senior was the obvious MVP here Friday night, scoring 26 points to help his Eagles beat visiting Central Union High 62-56.
“We just wanted to prove that we were a good team,” Arambula said. “We worked hard this week because we wanted this game really bad, after losing a close game to them last time.
“We wanted to come out firing, and we did,” he said.
Adding a twist to the mix was the fact that Central Spartans junior Jakob Salgado did not play in the game.
Sources close to the team reported that Salgado missed practice Monday due to a groin injury, and that it was the missed practice that kept him on the bench throughout Friday night.
Central coach Marty Zwart was unavailable to either deny or corroborate that report by press time.
What was readily apparent was that Southwest certainly came out firing, flying up and down the court to work up a solid 32-19 lead by halftime.
Arambula had 17 of his points in that first half, most of them created thanks to his four steals on the night. Four of his baskets were three-pointers; the point guard ended up with five rebounds, as well.
Despite being down by 14 points, the Spartans were certainly not out of the game yet.
Led by Demonte Reed and Luis Viscaino, Central matched Southwest for points during the third quarter, before going on an 11-point rally late in the fourth to cut their deficit to four points.
The Eagles, however, played smart ball throughout the last minute, forcing Central to foul often as a way of stopping the clock, helping Southwest win 62-56 in one of the most exciting games of the season.
“Like I said before, I knew there would be fireworks tonight,” Eagles coach Ruben Valenzuela said.
“We knew Central wouldn’t give up and we had to hold our guard,” he said. “But we pulled it off.”
Valenzuela explained that because this was the second and final contest between the two teams in the 2013 season, Southwest would gain the automatic playoff spot as league champions if they can win out against Calexico High and Brawley Union High.
Senior Rick Cesena added 16 points for the Eagles on Friday night, with Viscaino (17 points, 10 rebounds, two blocks) and Reed (15 points, seven rebounds) leading the Spartans.
Southwest (7-15, 3-1 Imperial Valley League) will play at Calexico next Tuesday night.
Central (11-8, 1-1 IVL) hosts Calipatria High next on Valentine’s Day.