Like a thoroughbred coasting amid the pack, the La Quinta Blackhawks waited until the mid-pole to make a charge against conference foe Palm Springs.
In a battle of teams jockeying for DVL position with just two weeks left in league play, La Quinta turned a meager 19-8 halftime deficit into a 42-38 road win over the host Indians on Tuesday night.
After corralling just three field goals in the opening two quarters, the Blackhawks laid down the whip after half with a 9-0 run to open the third. Down 26-23 entering the final quarter, La Quinta outscored Palm Springs 19-12 in the fourth to author the outcome.
“In all honesty: No team misses that many baskets,” Blackhawks’ senior Jojo Wiggins said of La Quinta’s vexing first half. “They were layups, and we knew they were going to start falling eventually. It was only a matter of time. We knew they were going to fall. You’re not gonna miss layups the whole game.”
Wiggins led all scorers with 14 points on the night, while teammate Julian Del Toro scored all nine of his points in the second half.
After dropping back-to-back games to Palm Desert and Indio last week, La Quinta’s 2-0 mark this week finds them with a half-game edge over the Rajahs for second place in conference.
“We feel really confident right now and can push for that second spot,” added Wiggins. “We still feel we’re the best team in the valley.”
In the loss, reeling Palm Springs was led by 11 points from junior Ray Mullen, with all of his output coming in the opening half. Sophomore starting point guard Noah McGuire added seven points for the Indians, who received no bench points on the night.
“We didn’t come out as strong as we should have and kinda let down a little bit and let them come back, gave them some confidence,” said McGuire of Palm Springs’ latter-half performance. “We’re a little down right now, but we know we can come up with some wins the next couple of games.”
La Quinta (12-11, 6-3 DVL) plays for its third consecutive DVL win when the Blackhawks visit Xavier Prep Tuesday night.
After going 3-1 to open league play, Palm Springs (5-15, 4-4 DVL) has now lost three of its past four DVL contests. The Indians, standing in fourth place, aim for a late-season at Indio on Tuesday.