Freshman Diego Carranza scored on an offensive rebound to break a 42-42 tie with 1:46 left in the game, and the Patagonia Lobos boys basketball team held on to beat the Immaculate Heart Knights 50-44 at home on Wednesday.
Senior point guard Santiny Aguilar scored a game-high 25 points – 13 in the fourth quarter – as the Lobos overcame a sluggish first half to notch their second win of the regular season.
“Our pride took over,” Aguilar said of the team’s second-half turnaround. “They came in, they thought they were going to beat us and we took that personally. We had to show them what we’re made of. Our offense wasn’t really showing up and we knew if we started our defense it would all come together.”
Patagonia scored just eight points in each of the first two quarters and trailed 21-16 at halftime.
They narrowed the lead to one when Aguilar hit a three pointer three minutes into the second half, then went ahead 24-23 less than a minute later when Carranza scored on a drive.
The Knights retook the lead, but Patagonia went back in front 28-27 when Carranza fed junior center Christian Ibarra for a layup with 2:05 left in the third quarter.
But after a timeout, Immaculate Heart reeled off eight straight points to close out the period with a 35-28 advantage.
Carranza ended the visitors’ run with a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter, and the Lobos continued to chip away at the Knights’ lead.
With 3:47 left in the game, Aguilar hit two free throws to bring the Lobos to within a point at 40-39. Carranza came up with a quick steal and passed to Aguilar, who was fouled on a three-point attempt. He made all three foul shots and the Lobos led 42-40.
The Knights’ Alejandro Nuñez drove the lane and scored with 2:15 left to tie the game at 42, but Carranza put back a Lobos miss a half-minute later to give Patagonia the lead for good.
Two free throws from senior Ivan Carranza stretched the advantage to four, and after an Immaculate Heart basket made it 46-44, Aguilar scored on a break with 16 seconds left to push the lead back to four. He then hit two free throws with 4.8 seconds left to ice the win.
In the crucial fourth quarter, the Lobos outscored the Knights 22-9.
In addition to Aguilar’s 25 points – which gave him a total of 976 for his high school career – Patagonia got 12 from Ivan Carranza, who scored all eight of his team’s points in the second quarter. He also had four steals to lead the team. Diego Carranza finished with seven points, seven rebounds and three steals.
Aguilar is the only returning starter from a Lobos team that made it to the state semifinals last season, and the team’s roster this season features six sophomores and five freshmen. Aguilar singled out Diego Carranza, one of the team’s freshmen, for his contributions on Wednesday.
“His defense was amazing,” he said. “His defense brought our whole team up, brought our spirits up and it all came together.”
With the win on Wednesday, the Lobos evened their regular-season record at 2-2. Asked how the victory could help the young players on the team going forward, Aguilar said: “It boosts their self-esteem knowing that we can win, as long as we play as a team and don’t out our heads down.”
Patagonia was set to play its final game before the Christmas break on Thursday at Tombstone. They’ll resume the regular season on Jan. 4 at home against the Arizona School for the Deaf and Blind, and on Jan. 5 at Lourdes Catholic High School in Nogales.
The Patagonia girls team, which normally follows the same schedule as the boys, did not play on Wednesday. They were 1-2 in the regular season heading into Thursday's game at Tombstone.