Richard Verstegan 5 a.m., March 12
No. 8 Otay Ranch hammers Eastlake in first place battle
Mustangs run the table in the first round of Mesa League play
CHULA VISTA – At its halfway point, the Mesa League belongs to Otay Ranch. The No. 8 Mustangs delivered an emphatic 66-37 win at fellow league unbeaten Eastlake on Wednesday to sweep the first round of league play.
“We made a statement tonight that we’re the team to beat,” said Otay Ranch guard Alex Perez. “We’ve been working hard all year for a league title and we just need five more wins.”
Otay Ranch (17-4, 5-0 Mesa) scored the first seven points of the game and led 14-7 after the first quarter. The Mustangs extended their lead in a second quarter where Perez scored 15 of his game-high 37 points – including a stretch of nine straight points.
“I was just having fun,” Perez said. “My coach told me in practice don’t be afraid to show the range and it was just confidence.”
The Mustangs led 37-17 at the half, a lead that Eastlake (13-6, 4-1) cut into by scoring the first six points of the third quarter. The Titans didn’t get closer than that the rest of the way, however, as Otay Ranch pushed its lead to 23 points by the end of the third and rolled to a 29-point win.
“We played harder and we just wanted it more tonight,” Perez said. “We’ve been waiting two years for this, and I wasn’t satisfied until that buzzer rang even though we were up by 30.”
In leading Otay Ranch to victory Perez nearly outscored Eastlake on his own, putting up points both inside and outside. The win was the Mustangs’ first at Eastlake since they joined the Mesa League in 2006-07, including a 79-55 loss last season.
“They blew us out here last year and we used that as motivation,” Perez said. “We just came out hard and wanted it more.”
Antuione Collins added 13 points for Otay Ranch. The Mustangs now control their own destiny entering the second half of Mesa League play.
“We just have to stay hungry until the end,” Perez said. “We know we haven’t done anything yet – we still have to go through the same five teams and play even harder to get the banner.”
For Eastlake, Aaron Baltazar led the way with 13 points. The Titans had won nine of their last 10 contests heading into the game.
Otay Ranch – 66 (14-23-16-13)
Perez 37, Collins 13, Andre Jones 6, Olaogun 4, Pizarro 0 (starters) Villagracia 3, Nelson 2, Langit 1
Eastlake – 37 (7-10-13-7)
Baltazar 13, Garcia 5, Tabula 2, Sinclair 2, Feaster 0 (starters) Gardner 7, Wells 3, Hurtado 3, Rogers 2
Otay Ranch guard Nico Pizarro leans in for a shot in front of an Eastlake defender