The Pacheco High Panthers were the latest WAC team trying to pull off a shocking upset of the unbeaten and heavily favored Tigers.
On Thursday night, there would be no upset.
Instead, the Tigers kept their heads together, started executing from the opening tip, and moved one game closer to their second straight undefeated regular season with a decisive 91-36 triumph over the visiting Panthers.
It was Patterson's largest point total in Elizabeth Tolleson's four years as head coach of the program.
And the Tigers (22-4, 11-0) did it by hitting many of their open shots, while watching the Panthers struggle to breathe under a tough hard-nose defense.
Thursday night, a raucous sixth-man crowd assembled itself together across the student section of the home bleachers.
A deep crowd of Tiger supporters, most of them from Patterson High's boys basketball program, amassed to chant for their team, using tactics to distract the opposing squad, and choosing to stand up during the whole contest.
The celebration included one fan crowdsurfing on the sideline, starting at court level and letting Patterson students carry him to the higher tiers of the bleachers.
On the hardwood, the Tigers kept the good times rolling.
Patterson won the opening tip and senior Dayna Hansen raced out for a layup that gave her team early momentum.
Trailing the ball on the next possession, junior Shealyn Craven soared in at the right time, intercepted the Pacheco pass and put Patterson ahead by four, depositing a pair of points.
Craven later delivered a pass to senior Jovanah Arrington, who made a layup, and then hit a pull-up three-pointer to send the Tigers on their way, and Patterson led 27-9 after one period.
The Tigers led 55-20 at halftime, thanks to 24-for-43 shooting (55 percent), and all 11 players scored before the break.
The contest took an odd turn late in the third quarter.
In protest against alleged refereeing bias in the game -- or, perhaps, because Pacheco was losing the game, its composure and the ball -- the visitors began intentionally turning the ball over to the Tigers, doing nothing to stop the opposition from scoring.
Patterson players stood around looking bewildered, and the referees quickly stepped in and maintained the order of the game.
Junior Ariyanna Cashen (7-of-9) recorded 14 points and 16 rebounds as Patterson posted its second blowout against Pacheco in nine days.
Senior Janae Jackson (three rebounds, two steals) also scored 14 points for Patterson, which defeated the Panthers 59-22 at Los Banos on Feb. 4. She scored 10 of her points during the first two quarters.
Craven (three steals, four assists) and senior Mele Tupouata (six rebounds) each contributed 11 points for the Tigers. Hansen (four rebounds, five steals) and sophomore Danielle Jenkins (nine rebounds) each had eight points for Patterson.
It's hard to ignore Patterson, which has won 25 straight league games. The Tigers last loss this season came at the Tom Hawkins/Tracy Breakfast Lions Girls Basketball Tournament at Tracy High School in the title game in late December.
The Tigers have been focused with the mantra of "unfinished business" all season long. Tolleson said the team used a similar mindset last year when the Tigers won the first league crown for Patterson since the 2009-10 season, and the first undefeated campaign for the program since 1978. Patterson had been knocked out the year before in the first round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division III playoffs.
Patterson will conclude the WAC season at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, against visiting Central Valley High of Ceres.
Last night in Patterson, it took the JV Tigers hardly any time to get going.
Patterson quickly imposed its will on the beleaguered Pacheco Panthers, turning a 29-point halftime lead into an eventual 52-16 rout.
Esther Ekueme had a big night on the glass for Patterson with eight points and seven rebounds, and she didn't lack a support system.
Emma Hansen added 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting and three assists for the Tigers, while Samantha Dougherty (three rebounds) and Jadan Rodriguez (five steals, three assists) each chipped in eight points.
The freshman Tigers used a dominant offensive and defensive performance to coast to a 35-11 triumph over the visiting Pacheco Panthers on Thursday night.
Jaira Luna (seven steals) helped Patterson to its first league victory of the season, posting a double-double with 19 points and 15 rebounds for the Tigers.
Tequea Penney (five points) finished with a team-high 17 rebounds, while Nau Paletua added four points, three rebounds and three steals for Patterson.
Veronica Vargas of Patterson helped with 12 rebounds and two steals.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.