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Hilmar struggles defensively in league opener
Hilmar boys basketball 1
Ben Sward provides the assist on the first basket of the second half of Hilmar’s league opener against Ripon High (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Hilmar High opened up league play with a loss against Ripon High on Wednesday. The Yellowjackets fell behind early and were never able to get back on track and fell to the Indians, 29-73.

The Yellowjackets struggled on defense which led to Ripon jumping out to an early lead. The offense didn’t fare much better with Hilmar not scoring double digits in a quarter. After the first half Hilmar was down 46-13 while giving up 27 points in the first quarter.

“We have to have to be more physical and quicker,” said head coach Alec Cano. “We lost two of our big guys so now we have to be quicker and get more rebounds. We can’t put ourselves in a hole in the first quarter, it’s that simple.”

Hilmar boys basketball 2
Noel Lopez shoots from deep to try to get the Yellowjackets back in the game (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Coming out of the half the Yellowjackets were able to get some quick points, but ended up continuing their defensive struggle and committed too many turnovers and missed too many shots towards the end of the quarter to cut into the lead. Ripon won the quarter 17-8 to take a 63-21 lead into the final quarter.

“The shots weren't falling, nothing was going in today,” said Cano. “We simply have to play better defense and be more physical. The offense will come after that; 73 points is just unacceptable.”

The defense finally came to life in the fourth quarter and Hilmar was able to get some stops. They were making the extra pass and were able to keep the quarter pretty competitive, keeping it to 8-10.

Now that league games have started, Cano wants his team to remember that every game matters.

“I told them we can’t lose back-to-back and we have to be consistent,” he said. “We have to be consistent and have four good quarters. We have to be great one quarter and carry that into the next quarter.”

The leading scorers for the Yellowjackets were Cameron Moak and Jacob Flanery with seven points each. McKade Jenson also contributed with six points.

The Yellowjackets face their next league game against Ripon Christian. The game is a home game and will take place at 7 p.m.