This is what Miguel Mendoza’s offense is supposed to look like.
The first-year Beatty High School basketball coach wants his team to push the ball and try to run the opponent right out of the gym. Against an undermanned Word of Life team Tuesday night, the Hornets turned the third quarter into a clinic and coasted to a 48-33 victory over the Eagles in the Class 1A Southern League opener for both teams.
Fitting for a team on which anyone can lead the break, Beatty featured balanced scoring, with Fabian Perez and Jorge Leon each scoring 8 points and Juan Lopez adding 7.
“That’s what it’s supposed to look like, especially when we’re playing a team with a small bench,” Mendoza said. “The whole point is to run them out of the building. There’s no way they can keep up with us.”
The Eagles certainly didn’t. Down just 11-8 after one quarter, they surrendered 11 consecutive points during the second as the Hornets took a 26-14 halftime lead. That spurt was keyed by freshman Jacob Hibbert’s two 3-pointers midway through the period which brought roars from the crowd and seemed to add even more fuel to the Beatty fire.
“The one that brought us energy from the bench and got us to just pull away from them was the freshman, Jacob Hibbert,” Mendoza said. “When he came in he shot those two 3s right off the bat and brought the energy back in the building.
“That’s all I can ask for from my bench players. Sometimes all you need is a spark.”
But it was during the third quarter that Beatty showed what it can do to an opponent. Senior Juan Lopez, who was not a factor during the first half, stepped it up on both ends of the floor, creating space on the offensive end to get passes for easy layups and getting several defensive rebounds on the other end as the Hornets held the Eagles to one shot time and again.
“Juan did have a good game,” Mendoza said. “It reflects that he showed up all of Christmas break and came to practice, and he’s a senior so he should be working that hard.”
“At first the paint wasn’t working for me,” Lopez said. “I couldn’t find any open shots, couldn’t get any passes. He took me out. Third quarter, I went in and started working the paint better.”
Defensive rebounding is critical to igniting the Hornets’ frenetic offense, and they did an excellent job Tuesday night, especially after halftime.
“Even though we did pretty well this game, that’s something we can still work on,” Mendoza said. “I guess that’s a high school thing. Nobody boxes out all the time.”
“We can do it, but sometimes we get lazy and just don’t want to do it, but we know we can do it,” Lopez said of rebounding.
Whatever the reason, they were doing it after halftime, and it helped fuel a 10-0 run that doomed the Eagles once and for all. And several players had a hand in it.
Miguel Castro sank two free throws after getting fouled on a drive to the hoop. Darren Stephenson hit a little 10-footer along the baseline. Leon took a pass from Perez on the break for an easy layup. Stephenson capped a nice drive with a pretty scoop shot, then Lopez hit the first of three layups down low he would have during the quarter.
All of that took more than 5 minutes, 30 seconds, a stretch which saw the Eagles held scoreless. It was one shot almost each time up the floor for Word of Life, which did not score during the period until 2:29 remained, and the Eagles’ only other basket of the period came when junior Anu Mahay, who torched the Hornets for 25 largely meaningless points, nailed a 3-pointer from the corner.
But by the then, it was over, as the Hornets had turned that 26-14 halftime lead into a 40-19 laugher. There was no easing up from Beatty on the court, and there was none on the scoreboard until Mendoza emptied his bench.
“That’s one of my biggest pet peeves, just because we have the lead people decide to lay down,” he said. “That’s what I always emphasize. you come out the same team.”
Ten players scored for the Hornets, and everyone played, two more things Mendoza liked seeing.
“If it develops like it’s supposed to, at the end of the season we should have a heavy bench that complements the starters,” he said.
Lopez is a believer in the new system.
“He knows what he’s doing. I like it,” Beatty’s big man said. “Sometimes I get tired and get there late, but we’ll get there.”
The Hornets reached the region playoffs last year, losing to Tonopah in their opener. And this year?
“We can be pretty good,” Lopez said. “We’re making state this year. Hopefully.”