Maxwell reins in Espinoza, storms back in second half to beat Princeton

Maxwell High School’s varsity boys basketball team erased a 21-point deficit by the end of regulation, then toppled visiting Princeton in overtime, 63-61, on Thursday night.

The Eagles came out with guns blazing, mounting a 19-0 lead in the first six minutes of the game. Manuel Espinoza rained fire from all over the court, sinking six 3-pointers in the first half alone.

Espinoza netted 24 of his game-high 32 points in the first half, but the Panthers limited him to two field goals after the break. Once they made their defensive adjustments, the Panthers began staging an impressive comeback.

Daniel Lara and Jake Sutton led Maxwell’s rallying cry with five 3-pointers apiece, combining to score 40 of the team’s points.

“They held their composure and came together as a team,” Maxwell coach Tomas Mendiola said.

Lara notched a double-double, netting 25 points with 11 rebounds, and Sutton scored 15 points with seven rebounds.

Vincent Ferrara also came close to a double-double, scoring nine points and grabbing 10 rebounds for the Panthers (6-5).

Ferrara and Lara each landed a bucket in overtime to snap regulation’s 56-56 tie, but the Eagles managed to knot the score again at 60 with one minute, 37 seconds remaining.

Greg Rangel delivered the final blow for the Panthers, a 3-pointer that sent the Eagles reeling.

Shane Irish, who scored 18 points for Princeton, hit a free throw to pull the Eagles within a perimeter basket of tying the game again, but Princeton’s final possession resulted in a missed jumper from the paint.

“The boys started playing better and ran the offense,” Mendiola said. “They worked hard to come back and I’m proud of them.”

Rangel finished with seven points and Tony Ambriz added four with eight rebounds.
The Panthers opened league play Tuesday night against Biggs and will travel to East Nicolaus this weekend for the Robert Wolcott “Love of the Game” Tournament.■