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The final day of round-robin play of the Gene Duffy Sr. Holiday Classic is in the books. The Calistoga boys team went 1-2 to finish third out of the four-team Boys Green Pool, while the Calistoga girls team went 2-1 to finish second in the Girls Green Pool.

The Calistoga boys will play Roseland Collegiate Prep at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and the girls will also play Roseland Collegiate Prep, but at 11 a.m.

Here’s how the Wildcats did in their final round-robin games on Friday.

Girls: Morro Bay 38, Calistoga 34.

The Wildcats looked headed for an undefeated tournament after Hayseel Barrera’s consecutive lay ups with five minutes left gave Calistoga a 32-26 lead.

Even though a six-point margin is slim, neither team had led by more than three points in a tightly contested second half, so the slight advantage felt huge at the time.

But that feeling was fleeting and Morro Bay tied the game at 32-32 three minutes later. From there, the two teams battled with new intensity for every basket. The Pirates eventually took a 36-32 lead with 22 seconds left before Calistoga’s Laila Elkeshen converted a layup with eight seconds left to bring the margin back within two.

Morro Bay called a timeout after it nearly turned the ball over on the ensuing inbounds. Out of the timeout, Calistoga fouled Morro Bay’s Phoebe Knighton intentionally to send her to the free throw line in a high pressure situation. The Calistoga home crowd was rowdy at this point, stomping the bleachers and shouting during Knighton’s free throw. She missed both, but then secured the loose-ball rebound, was fouled again, and then sunk both to give Morro Bay a 38-34 advantage that it would hang on to for the final seconds.

It was an unfamiliar situation for the Wildcats (2-3) and it showed to co-head coach Ray Particelli.

“I see a little bit of anxiety over that opportunity to grab the ribbon,” he said. “It’s right there in front of them but it gets a little bit more tense. The flow of the game, especially when the tempo is up, you don’t realize the score and you don’t play possession by possession but as the clock is running out you realize there’s two and a half minutes left, then we got two minutes, then you start to tighten up a little bit and that cost us.

“But I thought the girls played great, I thought they were fun to watch. … I’m happy with the girls.”

Barrera led the Wildcats in scoring with 12 points, while Litzy Infante scored ten and Lizbeth Escobedo added five.

Boys: Morro Bay 67, Calistoga 41.

A tight contest at the half turned into a runaway win for the Pirates.

Calistoga actually led 12-11 after the first quarter and only trailed 28-21 at the half. But Morro Bay came out of the half with its offense firing on all cylinders and outscored the Wildcats (3-4) 21-7 over the first six minutes of the third quarter. That run ballooned their advantage to 49-28 and they headed to fourth quarter ahead 49-33.

The Pirates simply piled on against the short-handed and height-disadvantaged Wildcats, building their lead to as great as 24 in the fourth quarter as they coasted the remaining eight minutes to a 67-41 win.

“I’m happy with the progression of the boys, all things considered,” said Particelli, who also coaches the boys team. “There’s no shame in losing to the teams that we’ve lost to in this tournament. (Morro Bay) is solid. They’ve got size, they’ve got shooting, they’ve got speed, and I’m going to go out on a limb and say they’ve had more practice than us.”

Jasiel Flores led the way for Calistoga with 16 points. Cesar Ayala followed with eight and Christian Caldera had six.

The Wildcats had no answer for the Pirates 6-foot-9 center Joey Ruddell who scored 14 points and had around the same number of blocks. Rounding out the Pirates scoring was Tyson Offill with 16 and Daniel Hyun, who scored a game-high 23 points and hit five 3-pointers along the way.

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Sports Reporter