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Eagles' wings clipped by Grizzlies
Princeton High's boys basketball team have been wearing their home whites Wednesday, but their surroundings were anything but familiar as they battled Loyalton at Champion Christian High in Chico.
The neutral venue came about because Champion's girls squad was going to host Loyalton, and since the Mustangs don't field a boys team, Loyalton's boys wanted somebody else to play.
The Eagles' Fernando Sotelo found the rims much to his liking, as the junior hit for 27 points, but it was not enough to prevent a 54-50 defeat at the paws of the Grizzlies.
The two squads matched up well, and the biggest lead in the first quarter by either side was three points, but Jared Mascadri's bucket for his fifth points of the opening period drew both teams even at 14-14.
Princeton got into early foul trouble and it came back to haunt them in the second quarter, as Loyalton converted seven free-throw attempts in the period to grab a 27-23 lead at the break.
It was also the Eagles' inability to take care of the ball that led to the halftime deficit, according to Princeton coach Travis Bennett. "We struggled with offensive continuity in the first half, and committed 12 turnovers."
Also not helping the cause was Jared Mascadri picking up three fouls.
After a pair of Cash Grandi free throws in the third quarter extended the Loyalton lead to six, Sotelo responded with a pair of jumpers to close the gap to just two points, and then dropped a trey to answer one from the Grizzlies' Tyler Davis.
A Chad Zoller runner tied the score at 32-32, and the lead changed hands six times until the end of the period, which closed with Loyalton up 39-37.
The Grizzlies grabbed the first two hoops of the fourth quarter to go up by six points, and later held a seven-point advantage after the third of Davis' four 3-pointers.
Mascadri was also whistled for his fifth foul and had to watch the remainder of the game from the bench.
The real killer came with Loyalton ahead just 50-48 and time winding down on the shot clock. Davis threw up a three just to beat the clock, and caromed it in off the glass to make it 53-48.
The Eagles' last chance to set up a dramatic ending went out the window when they were called for traveling with 14 seconds remaining.
"(Loyalton) played their butts off, and their defense and rebounding killed us," said coach Bennett.
Along with Sotelo's 27, Zoller scored 11 and Mascadri tacked on seven.
Mascadri's six rebounds were Princeton's second best after Sotelo's 15.
Davis paced Loyalton with 23 points, 12 of which came off three-pointers, and Grandi pitched in with 11.
Princeton finished the regular season at 11, and went 6-2 in the Pioneer-Valley League.
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 82401936 or email@example.com.