GLENDALE — A frustrating first half of missed short-range field goals turned into a successful and opportunistic second half for the Glendale Community College men’s basketball team.
The Vaqueros continued their strong play this season due to an improved offensive effort over Wednesday evening’s final 20 minutes of Western State Conference South Division play, which translated into a 69-59 victory over visiting Bakersfield College.
Glendale (15-3, 3-1 in conference), which entered the game ranked No. 18 in state, led by as many as 16 points at two different junctures but saw its lead trimmed to 11 at 53-42 with 6:29 remaining before the Renegades (10-9-1, 1-4) closed the gap to 55-45 with 4:02 left on a layup from sophomore guard Corey Mitchell that was created on a steal and assist from Lawrence Moore.
The bucket counted for two of Mitchell’s game-high 25 points.
While Bakersfield may have had a slight edge, momentum went straight back to Glendale when freshman guard Jalen Etienne crashed to the hole on the Vaqueros’ subsequent possession and was fouled while making a layup.
While Etienne (12 points and three assists) missed his free throw, his bucket still put the Vaqueros up by 12.
Glendale’s lead then ballooned back to 15 when a Renegades miss turned into a three-pointer the other way from Etienne, who was assisted by Jason Moore (team-high 15 points), which put Glendale up, 60-45, with 2:17 remaining.
While Bakersfield came back with a layup, the Vaqueros slammed the door when freshman Vahe Aristakessian, a Glendale High alumnus, chucked a three-quarter-long pass to wide-open sophomore Emmett Duvall for a thunderous dunk with 1:50 left that put Glendale back up by 15 and virtually iced the game.
“That’s a press-break play. Actually my teammate Gor [Plavchyan] saw it and we ran it. Props to him,” said Duvall, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. “The big thing for us was intensity. We kept our intensity up.”
Duvall had a similar momentum-breaking slam a bit earlier in the contest as the Renegades against closed to within 10 points.
This time, St. Francis High product Emerson Castaneda fed Duvall for an alley-oop dunk with 7:41 to play in which Duvall was also fouled. Duvall sank the free throw to put Glendale up, 51-38.
Glendale built a double-digit lead early in the second half by scoring nine of the first 10 points of the half in leading, 34-19, with 17:29 left in the game.
Glendale took a 25-18 advantage into the break in a first half in which neither team hit on more than a third of its field goal tries.
The Vaqueros first created some space with a 9-0 run midway through the first half.
The spurt was created on a jumper from Santiago Grady (nine rebounds) off an assist from Nick Kahn with 8:01 left and was capped on a four-footer from Etienne off an offensive rebound from Kahn at 6:33 as Glendale surged ahead, 20-11.
Bakersfield rallied and climbed within 22-18 at 3:31 after an inside bucket from Mitchell set up on a slashing pass from Moore.
The basket turned out to be the final for the Renegades, who surrendered the last three points of the half in falling behind by seven.
Glendale’s first-half advantage was due primarily to perseverance, as the Vaqueros shot 31% from the field and didn’t score a bucket until 16:41 when Castaneda drained a three-pointer on what was his team’s sixth field goal try of the game.
Fortunately for the Vaqueros, the basket gave them a 3-2 lead, as Bakersfield only shot 32%.
“We tried to keep our composure and shoot the shots that were given to us more in the second half than in the first,” said Castaneda, who finished with eight points. “It was just a matter of taking better shots and making them.”