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Jackets steal a win from Bears
Salcedo's last-second swipe and bucket the difference
There's no two ways about it - if you were a Pierce High fan, the outcome of Wednesday's game really stung.
With the Bears leading the entire contest after going up 4-3 early on, the Yellowjackets' Tony Salcedo stole the ball in the closing seconds, dribbled a bee-line toward the basket and banked his lay-in off the glass with 1.3 seconds remaining to give Williams just its second lead of the game at 58-56.
On the ensuing in-bound desperation heave, the Jackets' Carlos Velazquez cemented a stellar 33-point night by picking off the pass, putting a period on the latest chapter of the storied cross-county rivalry.
Salcedo, who finished with seven points of his own, copped to not knowing for sure how much time he had left after his thievery.
"I knew we had less than 10 seconds, so I was trying to score as quickly as possible," beamed the 5-10 senior guard.
Last-second heroics had to be the farthest thing from the minds of the Yellowjackets after the first quarter, a period that saw them ice-cold offensively and trailing 15-6.
It was also eight minutes in which Williams floor-general Carlos Velazquez was kept off the scoreboard. If the Jackets had any hope at all, Velazquez was going to need to heat it up.
"We've got to play four quarters, we played a great first quarter," said Pierce coach Bob Zedaker, "then we let them chip away."
The chipping started in the second quarter.
Velazquez warmed up with 12 points in the period, the last six of which came on a pair of 3-pointers, as Williams closed the gap to 29-24 at the break.
The Bears built their halftime lead on eight points apiece by sophomore sensations Oscar Dorantes and Andy Corona, and five-point contributions by Chris Tapia and Mike Villanueva.
The third quarter saw Velazquez nail three more treys to force a 33-33 tie, but a Dorantes three-point play and hoop by Villanueva helped Pierce enter the final quarter holding onto a 42-37 lead.
A slick left-handed reverse lay-up by Pedro Boites was followed by a sixth Velazquez trey, bringing the score even at 42-42.
Just as quickly, Taylor Cabral buried a three-ball, Tapia head-faked his way down the lane before dishing out an assist to Cabral, and Cabral finished off a fast break to push Pierce back to the top at 49-42.
Following a Devon Carr bucket fed by a Velazquez assist, Pierce turned the ball over when they were unable to get the ball inbounds in five seconds, and Velazquez netted a pair of free throws to make it 56-54 with 56 seconds on the clock.
With just 29 seconds left, Velazquez drove the lane for the basket that set up Salcedo's game-winner.
"When he starts heating up, it helps open up everything else," Salcedo explained of the momentum generated by Velazquez. "We all just started hitting shots in the second half.
Carr added nine to the winning effort for Williams.
Dorantes paced Pierce with 17 and Corona added 15. Cabral and Villanueva each pitched in with seven.
Corona and Dorantes capped double-doubles with 13 and 11 rebounds, respectively, with Tapia also in double figures with 10.
"I told them to focus on Friday's game, because we can't go back (to Wednesday) but we can learn from it," Zedaker explained. "We can't turn the ball over on four straight possessions with a five-point lead in the fourth quarter."
Contact Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or email@example.com.