In a rematch of a game in December, the Palm Desert High School boys’ basketball team hosted Calabasas on Friday, but this time the Aztecs didn’t come out on top.
Palm Desert fell to the fifth-seeded Calabasas squad 60-44 in a game that more closely resembled a football game than a basketball game. There were several collisions and two Calabasas players were forced to the bench because of injuries.
The Aztecs never had the lead in a game that was close in the first half, but saw the Coyotes pull away in the last two quarters as the Palm Desert defense broke down.
Palm Desert held Calabasas to just 21 points in the first half, but the Coyotes ran up 39 in the second half.
“They had good execution and they had some shooters and hit some shots that we didn’t,” Palm Desert head coach Don Brady said.
The only person who scored in double digits for Palm Desert was senior Brian Serven who had 17 points. The team’s leading scorer on the season, Zack Whittet, was second Friday with eight points.
Calabasas’ momentum grew dramatically when, with no time left in the second quarter, Danny Azran canned a 3-pointer from just inside half court.
“They buried some threes, that shot and another one at the end of the third quarter really hurt us,” Brady said.
Palm Desert won the first matchup between these two squads 43-41, but Calabasas played as though they had a chip on their shoulder this time around.
“In the first game we didn’t let them get any good shots, it was phenomenal defense, tonight it was good defense, just not great,” Brady said.
Coyotes head coach Jon Palarz said his strategy focused on shutting down Whittet.
“From our experience with Palm Desert, we prepared for their system and individual players who were the source of our problems (in the first game),” Palarz said.
The second-round loss in the Division III-AAA playoffs ends the Aztecs season at 20-8. They finished second in the Desert Valley League.