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Fourth-quarter run propels Gridley boys over Sutter
Abrego's double-double paces Bulldogs
Gridley High boys basketball coach Nathan Link will sometimes see these small flashes of brilliance where his team looks invincible.
The Bulldogs will display a stretch of basketball where they hustle, defend, pass and run in transition, like they did Friday night, to the tune of a 10-0 spurt — Link just wants to see that kind of effort from the opening tip to the final buzzer.
"It bugs me, because I can see it in them," Link said. "We'll go stretches like that where we play great defense and have that intensity ... trying to get them to do that from the beginning (of the game) has been a battle.
"It's inside of them, and it's huge that they stepped up when they did."
Gridley trailed 35-32 early in the fourth quarter, but a 10-0 Bulldogs run in the final frame propelled them to a 50-44 Butte View League win at Farmer's Hall over rival Sutter.
Emery Haddy ignited the run with a 3-pointer, and was followed by transition layups from Tyler Abrego, Gustavo Trinidad and Shobi Khan. Gridley forced four Sutter turnovers during that spurt.
Sutter sophomore Garrett Stevenson ended Gridley's run with a deep 3 to make it 43-38 Bulldogs, but Haddy countered with his third 3-pointer of the night to extend the lead back to eight points.
The Huskies cut Gridley's lead to 46-44 with two Stevenson free throws and a couple of lay-ins by Austin Webster.
Abrego came up huge in the final minute for Gridley nailing four free throws to seal the victory.
It ended up being just another night in the ever-competitive BVL and Link expects the Bulldogs' six remaining league contests to be more of the same.
The Bulldogs (12-8, 1-1) lost to defending league champion Orland on Tuesday night at home.
"To go 0-2 in our first two home games in league, that would have been a huge hole to try and dig out of," Link said. "We really tried to instill that sense of urgency and have that fight. We didn't have it in the first half, but it showed up in the fourth quarter."
Gridley only led 7-3 after the first quarter as both teams struggled mightily shooting.
The Bulldogs shot 25 percent in the first and Sutter only had one field goal on 15 shots. That field goal came nearly six minutes into the game.
Sutter (13-6, 1-1) turned that trend around in the second quarter as the Huskies nailed four straight 3-pointers to take their first lead.
The Huskies eventually found the bottom of the net with a little more consistency, but were outrebounded by Gridley 30-16.
"We didn't have our shot early on, and by the time we got it, it was maybe a little too late," Sutter coach Bernie DiDario said. "We played well and played really hard on defense."
The loss snapped Sutter's 12-game winning streak, which dated back to Dec. 14.
With only two players back from last year's roster, Sutter has quickly learned how to mesh as a team. DiDario said a trip down to Palm Springs at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic helped build camaraderie.
"You can see the results of that," DiDario said. "They played at a pretty high level for such a young team."
Abrego scored a game-high 23 points and added 12 rebounds for a double-double. Haddy added nine on three 3s and Trinidad was huge off the bench with six points and five rebounds in place of the injured Mat Scott.
Stevenson was Sutter's leading scorer with 13 points and Webster scored 11 with six rebounds.
"We talked about the fact that this game would go exactly as it did ... either we would win by a few points or they would win by a few points," DiDario said. "I expect it to be like this the rest of the way."