California passes first test in opener
California opened its season Tuesday with a 62-56 win at Chartiers-Houston.
“I knew it was going to be a tough game tonight because they're big, bulky, and do a lot of things on defense,” California coach Phil Pergola said. “It's a good opener. It'll give us a good look at things we have to work on.”
California passed that first exam, and like Pergola said, it wasn't easy.
The first game shows the Trojans have a lot of homework to do before hosting Mapletown Thursday.
“We have to work on our patience, we need to work on our shooting, and we need to work on getting better shots,” Pergola said. “It's the first game, though, so I'm satisfied.
California opened the game at the free throw line, thanks to a technical foul by Chartiers-Houston player Tyler Day, for a dunk in pre-game warmups. Tanner Huffman, the Trojans' three-year starter, went to the line and hit one of two free throws to give California a 1-0 lead before the game got under way.
Both teams worked off the rust in the first quarter, and California took a 15-13 lead after one frame.
The Trojans went on an 11-0 run to start the second quarter and grabbed a 26-13 lead. The teams traded baskets the rest of the way as California went into halftime with a 30-19 advantage.
Seven players made it into the scoring column for California in the first half, with Evan Patterson leading the Trojans with eight points.
Chartiers Houston (1-2) outscored the Trojans 16-14 in the third quarter to go into the fourth quarter down nine, 44-35.
However, Huffman came alive in the quarter, scoring six of his team-high 19 points.
Huffman added eight more points in the fourth quarter, going 4-of-4 from the free throw line.
California was up 61-45 with a minute to go when Pergola pulled his starters. The Bucs outscored the Trojans 11-1 for the final margin.
Shayne Murphy and Ben Shade led the Bucs with 14 points each and Kodie Hanley came off the bench to add 12. Joining Huffman in double figures for California were the other returning starters from last season, Brian Fisher with 11 and Patterson with 10.
Naz Victoria is a freelance writer.