Rincon over Cienega 66-61 in another overtime thrillerby Andy Morales on Jan. 09, 2013, under Sports
Dylan Hidalgo hit a jumper to send Rincon and Cienega to overtime last year and the Rangers turned to him again with the score tied 68-68 with seconds remaining in the fourth overtime. That’s right, Cienega and Rincon went four extra periods last season and Hidalgo became the hero that night when he hit the winning basket (70-68) as time expired.
With Hidalgo a freshman at Kansas Wesleyan, Rincon needed someone else to step up Tuesday night with Cienega clinging to a 55-52 lead with about four seconds left in regulation.
Rincon (10-9) lost to Cienega (11-5) in early December and they are in danger of missing the playoffs this year unless they make some sort of move in the second half of the season. But, when Cienega jumped out to a 10-0 lead thanks to a couple of 3-pointers by Xavier Burnham, it looked their move would have to wait another night.
“We came out extremely weak,” explained Rincon/UHS senior Asha Esprit. “We were almost shutout of the first quarter. Cienega came out really hot and we have to find a way to overcome our slow starts.”
Help came quickly after Kevionte Alexander poured in 13 points in the second quarter to turn a 12-2 deficit into a 27-18 lead at the half. The 25-6 run by Rincon was extended by a couple of more points after Alexander hit a quick shot to open the second half to build an 11 point lead.
Alexander and Esprit scored six points each in the third quarter but Cienega junior Shane Burton scored 13 in the period on the strength of three 3-pointers. Still, a 3-pointer from Jason Chamberlain helped Rincon keep a 45-37 lead after three periods.
Rincon went up 48-39 with 6:32 left in the game but a bucket by Jeff Somers and a couple of 3-pointers from Daren Biggs and Burton closed the gap to 48-47 in little over a minute.
“It felt really good making the comeback,” explained Burton. “But I didn’t do it alone. I got help from a lot of players.”
Chamberlain sank a free throw with 4:17 left but Burton made a couple of his own to tie it up at 49-49 with 3:49 left in the game. Esprit stepped outside and made a 3-pointer of his own to retake the lead 52-49 but a basket by Biggs and a couple more free throws by Burton after a Rincon turnover gave Cienega the lead back (53-52) with 2:03 left.
Rincon threw the ball away again and Terrence Johnson converted on two free throws to give Cienega a 55-52 lead with 23.7 seconds left.
Rincon missed a 3-point shot with 11 seconds left and then a put-back fell short but Cienega turned the ball over on a travel call with 8.3 seconds left.
Senior guard Michael Miranda is the team’s third leading scorer and the best 3-point shooter on the team. “He didn’t get off a good shot but he’s our go-to guy,” said Esprit.
“After he hit it I knew we weren’t going to lose.”
True, it was not a perfect shot but his basket from the deep corner tied the game at 55-55 with 3 seconds left. Miranda had filled Hidalgo’s heroic shoes but the game was far from over.
Somers hit a 3-pointer to give Cienega a 61-59 lead with 1:47 left in overtime but Jesus Nunez made four straight free throws down the stretch to give Rincon a 63-61 lead with 35.3 seconds left.
Cienega missed a shot to tie the game with 20 seconds left and Esprit went to the line with a chance to ice the game. Esprit had only made two free throws in six attempts up to that point but he hit nothing but net on his last two to give Rincon a 65-61 lead with 17.3 seconds left.
Nunez provided the last point for the final 66-61 score.
Cienega is still pretty safe as far as making the state playoffs at this point with some big wins and a close loss to Nogales earlier in the season. They are also fresh off of a 3-1 mark at the Torrey Pines Holiday Classic but those games do not count towards seeding points.
After earning the 24th and last seed last year, their early goal was to finish in the top 16 and host a first-round tournament game. A win at Rincon might have bumped them into that spot but there is still plenty of time.
“Our main goal was to host a first-round game,” said Burton. “Our goal now is to make state.”
Cienega still has 10 seeding games left including two games scheduled against Buena and dates with Sahuaro and Tucson High. The Bobcats still control their own destiny.
Burton led all scorers with 24 points, Biggs scored 11 and Johnson added 9 for Cienega. Alexander led Rincon with 20, Esprit had 19 and Nunez had 9.