Coach Marino Angulo got the type of game he was expecting, and the result he was looking for.
The Montebello High School boys’ basketball coach said he knew his team would be facing a very physical team in Bell Gardens.
There were some aggressive fouls, some shoving and an anxious moment, but the Oilers withstood the challenge and defeated Bell Gardens, 79-64, Tuesday afternoon in their Almont League opener at Bell Gardens.
Montebello raised its record to 17-2 overall, while Bell Gardens dropped to 9-10. The Oilers are the favorites to repeat as league champions, but they struggled at Bell Gardens in the final league game of last season before winning, 63-50. Angulo was hoping to avoid the rough fourth quarter his team had to overcome.
“We had a real good team last season and they (Bell Gardens) went ahead of us by a point in the fourth quarter, so I knew it was going to be a battle again this season,” Angulo said. “I was concerned.”
His concern grew in the fourth quarter Tuesday, as the Oilers struggled to put the Lancers away in a game they led by as many as 17 points.
“We weren’t as physical as they were and they drove in for some easy layups and hit some threes to get close,” he said.
A three-pointer by Scott Williams got Bell Gardens to within 67-60 with 2:49 remaining. But a layup and two free throws from Montebello’s John-Michael Carabes and a 3-pointer by Richard De la Cruz enabled the Oilers to pull away. Darius Middleton scored 20 points to lead the Oilers, who also got 18 points from center Antonio Worthy. De la Cruz finished with 13 points, Carabes had 11 and Hector Martinez added eight.
“I wasn’t real happy with the way we played overall, but we were able to keep our composure and create a bigger lead,” Angulo said.
Miguel De la Torre (22 points), Chris Alvarez (21) and Williams (16) accounted for almost all of Bell Gardens’ scoring.
The Oilers are expecting the Almont League to be very competitive again this season.
“Our record is a lot better than BG’s, but this proves that you still have to show up,” Angulo said.
“The rivalry games are going to be tough. Schurr is going to come after us and Keppel has good post players that I think can give us a little bit of trouble. We’re the favorites to win the league, but we keep telling our players that they have to play the games.”
Montebello plays host to Alhambra at 5:15 p.m. Friday. Bell Gardens travels to San Gabriel for a Friday 5:15 p.m. game.
Bell Gardens defeated visiting Montebello, 35-31, in the Almont League girls’ opener. Claudia Alvarado scored all of her game-high 10 points in the first half to lead the Lancers (2-6, 1-0). Diana Giles had nine points and Anayelly Romero put in eight. Tiffani Martinez scored 10 points for Montebello (5-10, 0-1).