Kraig Clifton will never complain about a win, especially if it comes in the first game of the year. With that in mind, Clifton had no complaints after his Calaveras High School boys’ basketball team knocked off Downey 59-34 Monday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
“I am pretty pleased,” Clifton said from the locker room following the 25-point victory. “I knew that Downey played hard and aggressive. I was a little worried if we'd be able to match their intensity and I think for about three quarters of the game, we did. A lot of guys did some good stuff tonight.”
Calaveras has a very young roster with not much varsity experience. But one thing Calaveras does have going for it is depth. Of Calaveras’ 11 players, 10 of them scored points. Clifton hopes his deep bench will be one of the strengths of his young squad.
“Our depth is a good thing,” Clifton said. “It depends on if they can accept the fact that we are deep and we are going to play deep and be satisfied knowing they may just play two quarters, instead of thinking they’ll play all four quarters. We are going to play team ball and share those minutes and I think that’s going to be a good thing for us.”
Calaveras couldn't have asked for a better start to the night. At the end of the first quarter, Calaveras had a strong 14-5 lead. In the opening eight minutes, Calaveras got points from Colton Buckholz, Landon Beyette, AJ Cardon, Izzy Williams and John Savage.
Griffin Manning began the second quarter with a 3-point basket, which put Calaveras ahead 17-5. Freshman Jay Clifton scored his first varsity points in the second quarter, which included three free throws and one from downtown. Savage was a perfect 4 for 4 from the free throw line and Calaveras led 34-14 at halftime.
Even with a 20-point lead, Cardon knew his squad needed to keep the intensity up in the final half.
“It’s nice (having a big lead), but you never want to relax,” Cardon said. “You want to keep pushing it and going as hard as you can, that way that deficit doesn’t dwindle along the way.”
Calaveras wasn’t as sharp offensively in the third quarter, but still managed to get points from Clifton, Conner Arnold, Cardon, Savage and Tim Van Damme and took a 46-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
Senior Kaven Orlandi had a strong fourth quarter, as six of his eight points came in the final eight minutes. Arnold hit his second three of the game and Calaveras was able to hold on for the 59-34 victory.
Savage led the way in scoring for Calaveras with 10 points; Clifton and Orlandi each scored eight; Arnold, Cardon and Williams all added six points; Beyett scored five; Van Damme added four points; while Manning and Buckholz each scored three in the win.
“I think we played great as a team tonight and I think that’s one of our strongest attributes,” Cardon said. “We all work together.”
Calaveras will return to the hardwood Thursday to take part in the Riverbank Tournament. The tournament will run Thursday through Saturday. Calaveras’ next home game will be Dec. 17 against Escalon in San Andreas.
Calaveras’ JV team beat Downey 54-36. Elijah Malamed led Calaveras with 13 points; Tyler Cagle scored nine; Hunter Peterson, Braeden Orlandi and Jake Hopper each added six points; Jackson Bagneschi scored five; and Travis Byrd scored four.