Tracy 81, West 55
The Tracy High Bulldogs closed out their regular season with an 81-55 win at West High on Friday and now look forward to the Sac-Joaquin Section playoffs.
Going into Friday’s game, Tracy (17-9, 8-4 Tri-City Athletic League) had already clinched a playoff spot and West (7-21, 2-10 TCAL) was playing its last game of the season.
“We just wanted to have fun, and we all knew it was the seniors’ last night playing in Tracy, so we just wanted to have fun and put on a show,” said Tracy senior Isaiah Hawthorne, the game’s scoring leader with 31 points.
The Bulldogs are looking forward to finding out who they’ll play in the opening game of the SJS championship tournament, which begins Wednesday. Some teams have play-in games Monday.
“I know we’ll play a top-seeded team, but we’ll be ready,” Hawthorne said.
Hawthorne led the Tracy offense from the start, scoring 11 points in the first quarter, including the first shots of the night, which gave Tracy the lead from start to finish. Junior Daniel Spencer also scored 7 of his 13 points in the first quarter as his team took a 24-17 lead in the first and went up 42-30 at the half.
Hawthorne and Spencer led Tracy’s offense in the third quarter too, with senior Joelle Guzman scoring 6 of his 13 points in the third. Tracy also outrebounded West all night, with eight rebounds each for Hawthorne and Guzman. Hawthorne also had three blocks.
West put up a fight, with junior Elias Woodward scoring 13 of his team-high 21 points, including three 3-point shots, in the first half.
“Our mindset was just to win against our crosstown rivals. It was our two seniors’ last game, so we had to go out with a bang,” said Woodward, referring to Logan Ramos and Trevor Southards.
Nearly all the other players on the West team are juniors, along with two sophomores, Simeon Sims and Kapono Leonor. Woodward said there will be plenty of experience on next year’s team.
“Everyone else is coming out. Some might go for football and then basketball, but we’re looking pretty good for next year,” he said. “I see that we’re learning a lot. We’re playing more together and we’re playing harder because we want to win. We know what it takes.”
West coach John Clemons said the team was already looking toward the off-season and next year.
“At this point for us, it’s not so much about what’s our final record going to be,” he said. “We’re not battling for that playoff spot, but it was putting us on that right trajectory going into next year.
“It’s still important that we’re learning from tonight’s game going into spring, summer and fall, and make sure we’re improving. There’s a lot of potential, but you have to put in a lot of work to realize that potential. That’s what we have to look forward to in the off-season.”
Tracy coach Junior Cueva said his team went into Friday’s game looking forward to the playoffs, but also knowing that the intensity of the crosstown rivalry meant both teams would play hard.
“More than anything, we wanted to come in, get the win and leave injury-free, and see if we could get a couple looks at what we wanted to do for Wednesday’s playoff game.”