Boys basketball: Ukiah squeaks by Maria Carrillo

By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Ukiah forward Brian Sherwood crossed a wish off his bucket list Friday night at Maria Carrillo gym.

“I’ve always wanted to know what it felt like to make a game-winning basket,” Sherwood said.

The senior found out as his bucket with 3.7 seconds remaining was the difference as the Wildcats rallied to beat the Pumas, 50-48, in an NBL matchup. Sherwood’s basket came after he rebounded Adrian Mata’s missed layup. As the ball came off the rim, he and Carrillo’s A.J. John were battling for possession.

“John had his hand on the ball but I was able to grab it,” Sherwood said. “I had good position right in front of the basket and just put the ball back in.”

After a timeout, Carrillo had one chance to tie or win. However, Ryan Parker’s 3-point try hit the backboard and the rim before bouncing out.

“It took a while to sink in that I made the game-winning basket,” Sherwood said. “Carrillo still had that last possession, so I was concentrating on playing good defense. When they missed that shot at the buzzer and my teammates started hugging me, that’s when it sank in.”

Sherwood’s heroics capped a second-half rally by the Wildcats. With 5:45 remaining in the third quarter, they trailed 32-19. A free throw by David Mason and a 3-pointer by Gabe Knight started Ukiah on a 12-2 run. Heading to the fourth quarter, the Pumas’ lead had dwindled to 36-33.

Ukiah scored the first four points of the final period on a basket by Abe Rawles and two free throws by Sherwood.

The lead see-sawed the rest of the way with neither team leading by more than three points.

The win was a big turnaround for Ukiah. The Wildcats were blown out at home in Wednesday’s league opener by Cardinal Newman, 53-29.

“That was one of our worst games and this was one of our best,” Ukiah coach Bill Heath said. “The ball started bouncing our way in the second half and Carrillo started missing some shots. I knew if we kept playing hard, we had a good chance to win at the end.”

The Wildcats took a 48-45 lead on a Sherwood basket that came after a perfect feed from Knight. Clayton Andrews answered for the Pumas with a 3-pointer and that set the stage for Sherwood’s heroics.

Ukiah hit five 3-point shots in the second and another factor was the defensive job Abe Rawles did on John. The 6-foot-7 senior, who came in averaging over 20, finished with 17 points and connected on six of 20 from the field.

“Rawles was giving away four inches and 50 pounds,” Heath said. “That was certainly one key to the game.”

Carrillo coach Will Parker said seven turnovers in the second half hurt his team.

“Those were costly,” he pointed out. “We played a very good first half and a not-so-good second half. The ball just wasn’t bouncing our way after halftime.”

Sherwood and Mason were the top scorers for the Wildcats with 12 apiece. Mata had 10.

John’s 17 led Carrillo. Jake Viter was next with eight.

Ukiah’s record is 7-4 and 1-1 in league. Carrillo drops to 9-5 and 1-1.

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