TWENTYNINE PALMS — They really saved the best for last Tuesday night, Jan. 14, when underclass basketball teams from Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley high schools met for a preview of this year’s Battle of the Ball matchup.
With three games on the card, the Wildcats walked away with three wins but the last one came with an extra helping of last-second drama.
The boys freshman and junior varsity teams and the girls junior varsity squads all played dramatic games but nothing matched up to the final seconds of the boys junior varsity matchup, when the Trojans fought back from an 11-point deficit late in the fourth quarter.
With 42.6 second left, the Trojans had trimmed the Wildcat lead to 42-37 and with 15.6 seconds remaining, that lead had shrunk to 42-39.
It was still 42-39, with four ticks left on the clock, when Trojan Aiden Gamboa was sent to the free-throw line with three shots and a chance to tie the game. He made one of three.
A Wildcat free throw with 2.7 seconds remaining gave the game its final score, 43-40, ending the night.
The Wildcat freshman team beat the Trojans 55-31 and the Wildcat junior varsity girls team overcame a slow first half to beat the Trojans 40-27.
The Wildcats were helped by powerful defense in the fourth quarter, when they held the Trojans scoreless.