DENAIR — On most nights, the shots would’ve fallen. The crowd would’ve erupted in cheers. And Denair High boys basketball coach Curtis Wooten would’ve had something else to worry about.
Not on this night.
For the Coyotes, it just didn’t make much sense that they were missing so many open shots. They couldn’t find any other explanation as to why they suffered a 64-56 head scratcher of a loss to Ripon Christian at the Coyotes Den on Friday night in the showdown between two of the top teams in the Southern League.
“We didn’t make our shots that we’d normally make,” guard Clayton McDonald said.
For example, they nailed 35 field goals on Tuesday against Turlock Christian in a lopsided 86-53 win.
On Friday night, the Coyotes finished with only 18 makes. It was a figured that made Wooten shake his head afterward.
It was an unspectacular night for the Coyotes (11-6 overall, 3-1 SL), who beat defending league champion Mariposa High last week for the first time in 10 years.
McDonald, one of the team’s best shooters, finished with 15 points — almost four below his season average.
Junior guard Juan De La Cruz had 13 points, including two 3-pointers in the final 90 seconds. And Colby Wooten did not have his best night, scoring 10 points before he twisted his ankle on a drive late in the fourth quarter and had to leave the game.
“I don’t know if it was big-game jitters,” McDonald said. “I don’t know what it was. It’s our gym. We usually make those shots we shoot every day in practice.”
Ripon Christian — last season’s Sac-Joaquin Section Division V runner-up — was led by Logan Vos, who finished with 22 points. Teammate Dan Vos had most of his 17 points via hard drives to the hoop.
The Knights (11-5 overall, 4-0) didn’t have a problem making shots, highlighted by the fact that they nailed all six of their 3-pointers during a run from the end of the first quarter to the second. Denair still managed to keep the game close, never letting Ripon Christian’s lead get bigger than 10 points.
De La Cruz made it 57-51 with a 3-pointer with 1:31 left before the Knights finished the game by sinking 7 of 8 free throws.
“We had a ton of shots we’d been making the last four, five games,” Coach Wooten said. “Tonight, we missed them. Against a good team like that, we can’t afford to shoot the way we did tonight and expect to win.”
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