Trojans lose a nailbiter

#5 Jeremy Francis carried the Trojans in the first half, but his game struggled mightily in the second half. ()

#5 Jeremy Francis carried the Trojans in the first half, but his game struggled mightily in the second half. ()

Can you think of anything to do in a span of 0.9 seconds?

Of course you can’t. And unfortunately for the Men’s Basketball team, that’s how much time was left in the game when Modesto point guard Chris Teevan made a five-foot floater to win the game and deliver a heart-breaking loss to the Trojans on Nov. 29, by a score of 72-71.

“We played arguably the best game of the season,” said Trojans Head Coach Justin Piergrossi. “We played hard for forty minutes, so that’s really all we can ask for as coaches. We played a heck of a game, but we just came up one point short.”

The Trojans (2-6) played admirably against Modesto, who was currently ranked sixth in the state heading into the game. However, the loss put the Trojans amidst a three-game losing streak, and losers of five out of their last six games.

But for a game that ended this close, you would’ve never guessed that Skyline was getting hammered in the beginning of the first half. Nathan Clark of Modesto went on a tirade, as he came up with some key defensive plays early and knocked down back-to-back three-pointers, as Modesto started the game on a 13-4 run.

Not only did Modesto play solid defense, but the Trojans weren’t helping out their own cause either.

Skyline was playing both lackadaisical offense and defense. Not only were they turning the ball over and missing some lay-ups, but they were allowing the Modesto players to get open looks on jumpers and three-pointers.

However, the Trojans’ offense coincided with the play of their guards.

Shooting guard Jeremy Francis led the Trojans with 13 points in the first half, and he helped the Trojans claw back and soon tied the game at 28 with four minutes remaining in the half. Point Guard Bryan Ngo picked up his game as well, as he had seven points and a couple assists. Not only that, but he ended the half knocking down a three, surprisingly putting the Trojans up 39-36.

However, as the second half started, Francis’ play declined.

He made a huge three-pointer near the end of the game, but that was his only basket of the second half, as he was struggling with his shot, thus, obviously leaving the Trojans without their leading scorer.

“He [Francis] had some good looks, but he didn’t make many,” said Piergrossi. “It just wasn’t a good shooting night for him. He usually makes those shots, but he didn’t make them tonight.”

However, the Trojans weren’t left in despair, as Ngo picked his game up drastically.

Ngo had 15 points in the second half, not only making his critical free throws, but making some huge shots in the waning moments of the game.

“Brian played great; he really played with confidence and put the team on his back. He was fantastic,” said Piergrossi.

For the vast majority of the second half, it was nothing but a ping pong game, as both teams picked up their overall offensive games and matched each other basket for basket, point for point.

In the beginning of the second half, for roughly five minutes, it seemed as though Ngo and Clark had a personal vendetta with one another, as they were the lone scorers for their teams. And as the game got closer and closer to ending, the defense got tighter and tighter, as it got more important to evade from miscues and mistakes.

With a little over two minutes remaining, Clark nailed a three-pointer to put Modesto up, 69-65. Soon afterwards, Coach Piergrossi called a timeout and gathered his team, which proved to pay dividends.

Ngo nailed a three of his own, pulling the game within one point. But soon after the Trojans’ shot, a Modesto player was fouled as he drove hard to the basket. And fortunately for the Trojans, he only made one of his two free throws, putting Modesto up 70-68.

Flustered and confused over what play to run, Ngo took the game into his own hands and knocked down another clutch three-pointer, putting the Trojans up 71-70 with 31.7 seconds left to play.

Soon, Coach Paul Brogan of Modesto called a timeout of his own to recollect his team and muster up a play of his own to fire back, as 31.7 seconds is more than enough time to get a good look on a shot.

Teevan in-bounded the ball and killed some time off the clock, making sure that if his team made a shot, that there wouldn’t be any time left for the Trojans to answer. And amidst the flurry and mayhem that was going on during Modesto’s broken play, it left Teevan wide open to drive under the basket and lay in the game winning shot with 0.9 seconds to play.

“I thought that we really outplayed them, and it’s unfortunate that we lost,” said Piergrossi. “I thought that tonight, we were the better team on the floor, but we came up a little short.”

However, after a tough home loss like this, Piergrossi still had some good words to say about his team.

“This game helped us build some confidence. They [players] know that they can play with one of the better teams around. If we keep playing this hard, we’ll be fine.”

The Trojans’ next game won’t be until Dec. 8, as they play hosts to the Skyline Classic Tournament, where they will play numerous teams in their conference, such as Las Positas and Contra Costa.