HANFORD — No one started the New Year with a bigger bang than the Bullpups on Wednesday.
Their 78-30 wire-to-wire victory over Golden West moved them to 2-0 in the West Yosemite League and 12-5 overall. On a three-game winning streak now, the Bullpups are four wins away from equaling last season’s total wins.
“It’s a good way to start January,” Hanford coach Brad Felder said. “There are some things we need to work on in practice … and then we’ll try to continue the momentum into Friday.”
Forward Jayshaun Collins came off the bench and led Hanford with 18 points on an incredible 9-of-12 shooting in the 48-point blowout, but it was the way the Bullpups played as a team that really stood out.
Players made the extra pass, defenders were backed up by one another and everyone got in on the transition game. It was the textbook definition of unselfish basketball.
“Nobody’s selfish on our team,” Hanford guard Juaron Watts-brown said. “Everybody wants to give everybody a bucket, so that’s good. We work together.”
Collins may have had the big night, but Cesar Mota scored 11 points, Karsten Gregory and Austin Serpa each scored nine points and Watts-brown had eight points. Three other Bullpups had seven points apiece.
As a result of their team play, players had open looks in the corners, great entry passes in the paint and got out on the fast break time after time.
The Bullpups shot an incredible 52.6 percent on the night and were even better from beyond the arc, shooting 53.3 percent (8-of-15). They had 20 assists on 30 baskets and took care of the ball limiting themselves to nine turnovers.
“We had a lot of time to adjust in preseason, figure things out and I think it showed tonight,” Gregory said.
There was no love lost from either team early on. Just minutes into the game, players were jawing at each other.
With 4:11 to go in the first quarter, Collins was fouled on a layup and had an opportunity at a 3-point play. Golden West small forward Tucker Stainbrook said something the referee didn’t like and was assessed a technical foul.
The officials then called a timeout and spoke with both coaches over what was happening on the floor.
“Just a little fun talk,” Gregory said.
That fun talk soon turned into playing and the Bullpups used a 6-0 run to take a 13-7 lead, but the Trailblazers came back on their own 5-0 burst. From there, the Hanford defense ramped up and they ended the first leading 23-14.
That defense carried over into a dominant second quarter. Dominant was an understatement really.
Not only did the Bullpups outscore the Trailblazers 25-2, they didn’t allow them to score a single basket in the quarter. The two points came off of free throws.
Watts-brown started the scoring with two free throws and Collins continued to score underneath. Collins was too big for Golden West to handle one-on-one and too crafty to stop in transition.
Serpa hit a corner three to put his team up 34-15 with just over three minutes to go. Mota followed with a jumper and then a from-beyond-the-arc to continue to balloon the lead.
The Bullpups defense forced the Trailblazers into turnovers in the half court and the quick defense almost always had a hand up.
Golden West was forced to come out of its traditional 1-3-1 zone to a 2-3 zone, but it didn’t matter. Nothing was going to slow down the Bullpups on Wednesday night.
They waltzed into halftime to a well-deserved applause from the crowd with a 48-16 lead.
“For us, it’s not a one-man game,” Gregory said. “We know that to win you need five [players]. We’re really just looking for the next man, trying to get everyone open, get some points.”
Hanford came out of the half with consecutive turnovers before Watts-brown scored, but a 3-pointer from Golden West prompted Felder to call a timeout with 4:57 left in the quarter. The boys recouped and led 67-28 after the third.
The fourth was another stellar eight minutes with the Bullpups limiting their opponents to one basket. Mota hit a 3-pointer at the end of the game, which made the game their biggest win yet. They previously beat Immanuel by 47 (70-23) on Dec. 30.
The Bullpups had 16 steals on the night, out-rebounded the Trailblazers 26-16 and limited them to 33.3 percent shooting from the floor. From deep, Golden West was 4-of-12 and struggled with 19 turnovers.
“Defensively, we did a good job keeping them off the boards and we really shared the ball tonight,” Felder said. “When we play together as a team, we’re pretty good.”
Carson Verhoeven, a transfer from Immanuel, was a new face on the court and scored seven points in his debut as a Bullpup after sitting out the required time for a transfer.
Felder said it helped having Verhoeven in the lineup because it gave them another player in their rotation.
The Bullpups continue in league play with a road game against El Diamante (5-10, 0-1 WYL) today at 7:30 p.m.
“On to the next one,” Gregory said. “Keep getting ‘W’s.”