After Orland knocked down a three-pointer off an offensive rebound with just over seven seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the Pierce Bears found themselves down 39-40 to the Trojans in the consolation championship game of the Ram Jam Tournament in Dixon on Dec. 29.
Bears coach Scott Burnum called a timeout and drew up a play, then sent his squad back out on the court to try and capture a last-second victory.
His players executed: Senior guard Jordi Ambriz took ball the length of floor, then passed the ball off to senior forward Angel Hernandez, who finished at the basket and dropped the game winning shot as time expired.
“…Coach drew up a play to go to me, to make the game winning shot. Our point guard received the inbound, and my job was to run as fast as I could on the side of the court. So, my point guard, Jordi Ambriz, sucked my defender in, which left me enough room to take one dribble and go up for the shot,” Hernandez said. “I honestly wasn’t thinking about anything, my mind was totally blank except for scoring the ball.”
The game-winner sent the Bears’ bench into a frenzy, and earned an emphatic fist-pump from Pierce coach Scott Burnum.
“I probably got a little more excited than I needed to, but it was fun for the team to get a win like that,” Burnum said. “It was just a good team win.”
He added that he was happy with his team’s development throughout the tournament, and said they would continue to work at playing Pierce basketball.
“It’s less about wins and losses, and more about your teammates and representing the Blue and Gold. We grew real well in that tournament as a team,” Burnum said. “We’re not the most prolific scoring team, and have to continue to come together as a team, and as a whole realize that everything matters out there,” Burnum said.
Gabe Villa led Pierce scorers with 14 points, and Ben High added 12 points, along with 11 rebounds.
Pierce earned their place in the consolation championship by defeating Woodland 66-42 on Dec. 28.
Senior forward Ben High turned in a prolific performance for the Bears, dropping 31 points against the Wolves, in addition to pulling down 13 rebounds. Alex Ambriz finished second in scoring with 18 points for Pierce, half of which came from beyond the arc. Angel Hernandez finished second in rebounds with 11.
“We had mismatches for (High). They didn’t have a lot of height, and that helped us,” Burnum said.
Pierce opened the tournament on Dec. 27 with a game against Sonoma Valley, which the Bears lost 45-33. Sophomore guard Gabe Villa led the Bears in scoring with 10 points against the Dragons, and Alex Ambriz was close behind him with eight points. Ben High put in a solid effort on the defensive end, grabbing eight defensive boards to go with three blocked shots.
Next up, Pierce (5-4) will face Woodland (2-11) again, this time in Arbuckle in a non-league game tomorrow. The varsity contest starts at 7 PM, and the junior varsity contest begins at 5:30 PM.