TEMECULA — Great Oak High's boys basketball team might have been the happiest 1-3 team around Thursday night. Even one win in the difficult Southwestern League is worth increased excitement.
This one, though, was admittedly special for the Wolfpack. Junior forward Justin Sadler scored a season-high 27 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Great Oak picked up its first win in program history over Chaparral with a 56-48 triumph.
In yet another, hard-fought, physical Southwestern League game, the two teams played a tight ballgame until the fourth quarter, when the Wolfpack (13-7, 1-3 league) surged to a double-digit lead over the Pumas (15-6, 1-3) with a 14-2 run.
"This legaue is so up in the air — anyone can win on any night," Great Oak coach Michael Young said. "Each game is going to be a dogfight. This is a great win for our program."
And it was a great night for Sadler, who took another step forward in his progression as a true big man.
The 6-foot, 6-inch forward dominated in the paint, shooting 10-for-16 from the field. And he dominated in timely fashion, scoring 12 in the fourth quarter when Great Oak took control of the game.
Young said he has been nudging Sadler to become more of a force, and more aggressive. Against the Pumas, who played their 2-3 zone for most of the game, Sadler was able to give himself high-percentage shots, even when the zone collapsed on him in the key. Thursday night marked a continuation of improvement from the second half of Sadler's 19-point output in a narrow loss to Vista Murrieta.
"He's getting very aggressive and gaining that confidence to be that big man that he can be," Youngt said. "He just has to know that he has to sometimes put the team on his shoulders."
Said Sadler: "I was just focusing on going strong to the basket and not being cautious with the ball."
Chaparral, meanwhile, had a miserable night shooting, converting just 19-of-57 attempted field goals and enduring a six-point second quarter. Junior Dylan Jacobsen scored a team-high 14 points, and Chaparral did cut the deficit to seven in the final two minutes.
Two nights after overcoming Temecula Valley in overtime, the Pumas appeared out of gas.
"We went ice cold," Chaparral coach Ed Coyle said. "Their size hurt us, and we couldn't get to the free-throw line."
"(We) were flat, especially after that Temecula Valley game the other night."