The last two games have been some of the best basketball the Patterson High varsity boys team has played this season.
It has been a trying season for the Tigers, but things have been looking up for this young varsity squad.
Patterson began their resurgence with a 60-44 win at Merced on Jan. 22. The team did not have a game scheduled last Friday, which gave them plenty of time to rest for a game against Buhach Colony at Dave Klein Gymnasium on Jan. 27.
The Tigers made it two in a row, with a strong 59-47 win over the Thunder.
Their 16-point and 12-point wins over Merced and Buhach Colony respectively are the second- and third- biggest margins of victory this season. Their best came against Delta Charter (24 points) back on Dec. 19.
During this burst, the Tigers have gotten strong play from sophomores Jeremiah Turner, Precious Nnaji and junior Yannick Andzuouana.
Turner scored 16 points against Merced, only to back that up with 18 points against the Thunder on Monday.
Nnaji had 13 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and an assist against Merced, and followed that up with four points, 10 rebounds and a block versus the Thunder.
Andzuouana had 13 points, five rebounds, seven assists and two steals against the Bears, and added to that with eight points, nine rebounds, two steals, two blocks and an assist in Monday’s win.
Head coach Jason McCleery praised his team’s willingness to make the right pass to his team’s success in the last pair of contests. McCleery shared that he felt their confidence has helped the squad play better as of late.
“I think everybody is playing unselfish and just recognizing where we need to be. I think we’ve been able to work on some things on defense, that has helped us on offense. If we can get some steals and some stops we can play fast. Our bigs can dominate running the court because they’re super athletic.” McCleery said. “Leaders like JT (Kuderca) and Logan (McCleery) are deferring shots and finding the hot hand, whether its Yannick and Precious inside or Jeremiah kicking it out. Like I said, everybody has been playing unselfish and the last two games it’s been Jeremiah, Yannick and Precious that have been rewarded with it. Hopefully we can keep it up.”
Patterson’s defense also played well against the Thunder.
After allowing Buhach Colony to score 64 points during their last encounter on Jan. 3, the Tigers held them to 47 on Monday. It was the eighth time the Patterson defense has held their opponent to 50 points or less this winter.
The Thunder’s leading scorer, Gerald Braxton, was held to 13 points, four rebounds, an assist and a steal. Heading into the game the senior averaged 20.2 points per game, 9 rebounds per game and 2.8 assists per game. Slowing Braxton down was a top priority for the Tigers defense.
“He got 13 points on a lot of offensive looks. That whole second half that’s all they were doing, was trying to get him the ball. Holding him to 13 points is a great job. It was a whole team effort,” McCleery said. “It wore him out. He was missing free throws at the end. He couldn’t get up and down the court. Jeremiah (Turner) was getting a bunch of easy layups at the end because he wasn’t hustling back. He was definitely a focal point. He and Jake (Sapien) average about 30 points a game. That’s over half, so that was our focus, was to try and control inside, and if the guards got hot then adjust.”
Patterson was scheduled to play at Golden Valley on Wednesday. The Cougars currently sit tied with El Capitan (6-1) for the top spot in the Central California Conference.
The Tigers will then return home for homecoming against Atwater on Friday, Jan. 31 at Dave Klein Gymnasium.