TEMECULA Great Oak boys basketball coach Robert Hickey’s halftime adjustment was real simple ---- feed the ball to 6-foot-6, 235-pound, post presence Justin Sadler.
Sadler took over in the second half and finished with 19 points as Great Oak rallied past Temecula Valley 65-60 in Southwestern League play Friday night
The Wolfpack (12-7, 3-1) overcame a 14-point deficit in the third quarter to record their first victory over Temecula Valley since Jan. 12, 2010, a span of five games.
“We were screaming in the locker room for a good five minutes,” Sadler said.
With the victory, Great Oak kept pace with Chaparral (3-1) in a wild Southwestern League race that appears to be up for grabs between five teams sporting a 2-2 record or better.
“Since I have been watching the Southwestern League for the last nine years, this is the most balanced I have ever seen it,” Temecula Valley coach Kyle Armstrong said. “We expect every game to be like this.”
Armstrong’s Golden Bears (12-9, 2-2) did a marvelous job of minimizing Sadler’s offensive impact in the first half, holding him to a single point. Temecula Valley led 27-21 at halftime.
Hickey informed his Wolfpack in the locker room that they were taking too many three-point shots instead of being patient and trying to work the ball to their big men in the key ---- Sadler and 6-foot-7 Patrick Sniff, who was also a handful inside with 12 points and a game-high 16 rebounds.
Hickey felt the team’s reckless three-point shooting was a factor in its 47-44 loss to Chaparral on Wednesday night.
“That’s what we told those guys, just because you’re open, doesn’t mean you have to shoot the three,” Hickey said.
Sadler scored 10 fourth-quarter points as the Wolfpack finished with a flurry and poured on 23 points in the final period.
“We figured out that we had to play much harder to win this game,” Sadler said. “Second half, we turned it on and got the ball into the post. From there, we went on a run. We got excited. We got that anger in us.”
Midway through the third quarter, Temecula Valley led 44-31 following a three-point shot by Ryan Schaefer, but everything unraveled after D’aubre Doucette was called for a technical foul for taunting.
“His reaction wasn’t any different than a lot of the other kids on both sides when big plays happened,” Armstrong said. “He was right in front of the official. Obviously taunting is something we don’t support, we don’t condone at all.”
Brandon Rosser, the Bears’ dynamic, 6-foot-8 forward, overcame first-half foul trouble to post a team-high 18 points. Zavier Harris came off the bench to grab 10 rebounds for Temecula Valley.