"We've got four league games left on the season, and we've got to take care of business," said Patterson coach Brian de la Porte. "We still have a shot at hosting a playoff game, but we have to finish the season strong."
Patterson (12-9 overall, 6-2 WAC) returns home from a Jan. 29 road game in which they jumped out to an early lead and held off a fierce Los Banos High rally to hand the namesake Tigers their seventh straight conference loss, 52-42.
Senior Cariaun Williams led Patterson against Los Banos (5-12, 0-7) with 14 points, while classmates Jordan Levu and Justin Rodriguez added 12 and eight points, respectively.
"Los Banos played us tough -- we knew they would at home," de la Porte said. "They got within two or three points in the fourth quarter, but we were able to grind it out and come out on top."
Patterson has now won three consecutive midweek conference road games -- contests that make it harder for local students and alumni to attend, resulting in smaller crowds, de la Porte said.
He added the rigors of midweek travel can take their toll, as student-athletes work to keep their focus amid the simultaneous pressures of academia and athletics.
"These (midweek road) games seem to be a lot tougher than Friday road games," de la Porte said. "You're in another team's gym on a Wednesday night -- the players have to go to school the next day."
Patterson remains in the driver's seat for second in the league rankings.
Whether it will stay there likely depends on its next two games.
Patterson turned to take on Pacheco High of Los Banos (8-13, 2-5) on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in the first of two meetings between the two teams this season. Results were not available at press time.
Two days later, the Tigers will look for separation as Central Valley High of Ceres travels west to face Patterson for the first of two clashes between the two programs this season. The Hawks bring in a solid 17-5 record overall, and are hot on the local team's heels with a 5-2 record in the WAC.
The Tigers, meanwhile, will look to stay close to the top of their conference, while creating a multiple game lead over the rest of the pack. They would like to avoid the log-jam that is happening atop the league rankings.
"This is another league game that we've got to win," de la Porte said. "Central Valley wants to be the second place team in the league. So we've got to control the game against them."
Can Patterson get a little comfortable in the WAC with two big wins this week? It sure would go a long way as prep basketball season is coming down to the wire.
The Tigers will continue the WAC season at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 7, against visiting Central Valley High of Ceres.
Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or firstname.lastname@example.org.