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SOLEDAD — On a rainy day in Soledad, the Soledad Aztecs boys’ basketball team had an opportunity to position themselves in a great place to make a push at the Cypress Division title — all they had to do was beat arguably the best team in the league, the Monte Vista Christian Mustangs.

Entering last Friday’s showdown, the Mustangs were 12-3 overall and riding a five-game winning streak. The Aztecs, on the other hand, were 5-10 overall, but they had won four of their last five games, which had them at 4-1 in the Cypress Division.

From the start of the game, the Aztecs were beating the Mustangs to every loose ball and out-rebounding them. Soledad’s offense was aggressive in capitalizing on those second-chance points. The Aztecs led at the half, 30-20. 

Coming into the game, Soledad’s Pablo Morales IV was on fire from the three-point line and was one of the reasons why the Aztecs went on their run. In this game, Morales wouldn’t have it from the three-point line, but Soledad freshman Pedro Morales was able to spark for the team and went 4-8 from the three-point line.

Pablo Morales finished with 12 points, while Pedro Morales dropped 19 points.

One player that played a huge role was Soledad’s big guy, Anakin Tavarez, who had 10 rebounds and a bunch of tips that helped the Aztecs’ offense.

When the game was on the line and the Aztecs needed a closer, senior Hugo Barroso was the aggressor all game. All game, Barroso was attacking the basket and getting to the free-throw line. He finished with 24 points, as Soledad won 63-53.

With the win, Soledad had moved into a tie for first place with Rancho San Juan. If the season ended that day, the Aztecs would have come in second since they lost their first match with Rancho back on Jan. 2 by a score of 79-60.

This week, Soledad played at North Salinas on Tuesday, where they beat the Vikings by 62-49. Then, on Thursday, the Aztecs got to play Rancho San Juan again, but they ultimately came up short and lost 53-43.

Soledad is currently in third place in the Cypress Division with a league record of 6-2 (7-11 overall), behind Monte Vista Christian and Rancho San Juan, who each have a 7-1 league record.

The Aztecs will need to face everyone in the division one more time, but the way the Aztecs have been playing as of late, there is a chance that this season can be special.

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Jason Gallardo is the sports reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers high school sports for South Monterey County.


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