The Tigers (17-4 overall, 6-0 WAC) posted a pair of victories over conference foes Central Catholic High of Modesto and Pacheco High of Los Banos last week.
Patterson won 68-66 at home against the Central Catholic Raiders on Jan. 16 and bested the Panthers 65-57 in Los Banos on Friday, Jan. 18.
Patterson has won 14 of its latest 15 games to take sole possession of first place in the WAC.
“We let the players enjoy these victories, but our goal is to win WAC,” said Patterson coach Agustin Arreola. “If we are to reach our goal, the focus must remain on continuing to improve.”
On Jan. 16, Patterson players leapt off the bench and celebrated with their fans when the final buzzer sounded, thrilled to have beaten Central Catholic (17-3, 4-1), the reigning WAC boys basketball champion, in their second straight meeting.
The Tigers controlled the fourth quarter and dictated the game’s flow.
“The players showed the type of team we can be if we play 32 minutes of smart, intense basketball,” Arreola said.
Patterson junior Cariaun Williams — who torched the Raiders with 21 points in the final game of the 2011-12 WAC season — had 25 points, three rebounds and three assists.
“The better the team, the better I try to play,” Williams said. “I love competition.”
But the Raiders had a chance to win it in the closing ticks of regulation.
David Henriques connected on a 3-pointer with two seconds left that pulled Central Catholic within 67-65. The Tigers inbounded the ball to Williams, who was fouled immediately, and the buzzer sounded.
Williams, thinking the contest had ended, sprinted to Patterson’s end of the court and began to celebrate, jumping up and grabbing the rim. But because one official put two seconds back on the clock, the game was not over, and Williams was issued a technical foul.
As a raucous visiting crowd tried to distract him, Williams made one of his two free throws. Then Central Catholic’s Joe Hamilton drained one of the two technical free throws.
With the game hanging in the balance, Central Catholic got possession of the ball in its own end. But Nate Loya’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer clanked off the rim, setting off a celebration for the Tigers and their fans.
“We always want to show that we are a team that will compete,” Williams said. “This was a big challenge for us, but we came out and we played together.”
Both teams traded points early in the first quarter, before Central Catholic put together an 8-1 run to take a 15-9 lead with 49 seconds remaining in the opening period.
Patterson managed to pull within two as senior Skylar Job (nine points, four rebounds) completed a four-point play after he was fouled draining a 3-pointer.
The Raiders rattled off eight straight points at the beginning of the second quarter and led by as many as nine points (24-15) in the period.
But the Tigers responded with a 13-5 sprint, and senior Keegan Sanchez (15 points, six assists, five rebounds) buried a 3-ball that capped the surge with three seconds left in the frame, bringing the home team within 29-28 at halftime.
Central Catholic maintained its slim advantage through the opening minutes of the third quarter, before a 3-pointer by Jordan Levu (12 rebounds) and a layup by Kevin Phelps gave the Tigers their first lead since the opening period, 38-37.
But Raider John Fenton (13 points, 10 rebounds) completed a 3-point play that helped knot the game at 40-40 heading into the fourth quarter.
The final eight minutes belonged to the Tigers.
Patterson junior Michael Smith (four assists) came off the bench to key a 12-5 run that gave the Tigers a 57-48 lead with just more than five minutes remaining in the game.
“I can’t call (Smith) a sixth man. There aren’t many players in the area that can do the things he can,” Arreola said. “His playmaking ability sets him apart, and he feeds off these types of challenges.”
Smith scored nine of his 11 points in the fourth quarter — none more spectacular than an acrobatic scoop layup with about four minutes left that drew a standing ovation from the home crowd.
Smith blew past a Raiders defender with a behind-the-back move and then threw in a twisting up-and-under layup high off the glass.
“We are all family on this team,” Smith said. “Losing isn’t on our mind this season. We want to leave everything on the court when we play.”
The Tigers continues the league season at home at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 25, against Central Valley High of Ceres (7-12, 2-3).
Three JV Tigers scored in double figures Jan. 16 as Patterson dropped a 59-54 decision to Central Catholic in WAC action.
Patterson (3-2 WAC ) was paced by Devin Burnett’s 16 points and 13 rebounds. Damarrio Hammonds (six rebounds, six assists) scored 15, and Gurkirt Heerey (11 rebounds) added 13 for the Tigers.
Mylek McDowell tallied seven points, four rebounds and four assists.
The freshman Tigers took their first WAC loss of the season Jan. 16, a 55-32 setback at the hands of Central Catholic.
Hugo Gonzalez (nine rebounds) and Avery DeHoyos (five rebounds) led Patterson with eight points each.
Kogi Ogbuli chipped in seven points and eight rebounds for the Tigers (4-1 WAC), and teammate Richard Ricks notched six points and three boards.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or email@example.com.