Trojans steal win from Modesto

“We played with heart.”

Trojan guard Juan Garcia’s simple comment came as Skyline celebrated a narrow win over Modesto Junior College, Nov. 23.

Playing with heart was definitely the phrase of the night for the Trojans when they faced the Pirates and managed to capture their third win of the season with a score of 73-72.

The win was a whole team effort; not just one player had a great night.

“We don’t have enough game balls to give out tonight,” Coach Justin Piergrossi said after the victory. “We had a lot of good players in this game.”

The Trojans started out strong, playing hard, and gained a quick 11-3 lead. They lost their momentum when Modesto fought back and began making every shot they attempted.

The Trojans kept good energy and continued to hustle but missed a lot of good opportunities to score. At the end of the first half, the score was 30-42 in the Pirates favor.

The second half brought Skyline back, looking more focused and hungry for a win. Coach Piergrossi paced the sideline, shouting out words of both encouragement and disappointment. With only a couple minutes left in the game, the Trojans recaptured the lead, 70-69, for the first time since early in the game.

It all came down to one free throw. Mere seconds from the buzzer, Nathan Thomas was fouled as he tried to tie the game with a layup. He made the layup and the free throw and gave Skyline a one-point lead with five seconds on the clock.

Modesto answered by bringing the ball down the court and getting fouled with two seconds left. Both teams took a timeout to strategize.

Play resumed with the Pirates taking the ball into play from the sideline, but they ran out of time before getting off a good shot. The Trojans and their fans could not be quieted as they clapped, yelled and jumped up in excitement.

Many players contributed to the successful night. Marcus Hagwood led the Trojans with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the game. Paul Phangureh also had an outstanding game with 17 points. Marques Benjamin tallied 9 assists and 8 points and sank two big 3-pointers. In addition to scoring the game-winning shot, Nathan Thomas showed some great rebounding skills.

This is the third victory for the Trojans in the last five games and Coach Piergrossi couldn’t be happier about the win.

“I’m elated,” Piergrossi said. “We played a good game.”

The victory put Skyline’s record at 3-4.