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CHS boys muscle their way to first league win

Claremont High School boys basketball had no problem handling the South Hills Huskies on Tuesday, maintaining a consistent lead on their way to a 85-70 victory in the Palomares league opening game.

South Hills did put up an impressive fight, and kept the Pack on their toes including a last gasp run when the Huskies nailed three 3-pointers in the last two minutes. However, in the end Claremont was too much for the Huskies.

CHS used their deep bench strategically throughout the game. The Pack not only had the home court advantage, they were bigger, averaging 6 feet 3 inches to the Huskies’ 6 feet even, and had 11 seniors who have been playing together for four years.

The Pack’s size advantage was clear watching center senior Tyler Risher nearly run over the Huskies defense on his way to the net. At 6 feet 7 inches he towered over the opposition pulling in 12 rebounds, more than any other player. He also had four fouls as he tangled with the Huskies’ Nico Ramos most of the game.

The unofficial player of the game award goes to senior Kyle Scalmanini, who delivered several clutch plays, setting the momentum on his way to an impressive 26 points. Overall the Pack did a much better job setting up simple 2-point plays than they have in previous seasons, which made all the difference in the final score.

Claremont looked smooth and confident, was aggressive on the boards and consistently pulled in both defensive and offensive rebounds. The boys did give up 10 turnovers in part due to the fast passing game.

Claremont outscored the Huskies in the first three quarters, 18-12, 18-12 and 22-19, but South Hills came within two points of tying the score twice (the Pack did extend their lead to 21 points in the fourth quarter.) The key to the Huskies tenacity was the hustle of a few players including sophomore Damon Reygadas and senior Dalton Clevenger. Senior Jason Rodriguez was also red hot from the free throw line.

With 3:31 left in the game, and up by 21 points, Coach Tolliver pulled his starters giving some court time to up and coming players. Junior Jacob Henry, freshman Jacob Lopez and sophomore Matthew Dircks were cool under pressure, nailing one free throw after another keeping the Huskies at bay.

“We have had a good start obviously, this is the most important part of the season so it’s always good to get a win to start off league,” said Coach Tolliver after the game. “We’ve got 11 seniors so we are senior dominant this year, a lot of those young guys have finally grown up. They’ve been around the block a few times and are starting to understand the process a bit better.”

With the win Claremont now has a 13-5 overall record edging out Bonita for the top spot in Palomares league standings. The Pack will face the Bearcats in La Verne on Friday which will give both teams an opportunity to prove they deserve the league title.

—Steven Felschundneff

steven@claremont-courier.com