With composure and a will to be victorious, the San Quentin Kings basketball team made critical fourth-quarter baskets in their season-opener, defeating the outside team called The Bittermen, 67-62.
With eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the 40-and-over Kings held a narrow 43-41 lead.
With 4:20 left in the fourth quarter, Kings point guard Billy Wilson drained a three-pointer from the top corner; the key to maintaining the Kings’ lead of 57-53.
The Kings’ other point guard, Tare “Cancun” Beltranchuc, got the rebound and hit Wilson with an assist to give the Kings a 59-53 lead.
The Bittermen’s head coach Ted Saltveit called an immediate timeout. He told his players they were not playing with enough energy, and they needed to stay focused.
“The Kings are competitive and they are our rivals,” said Saltveit later about his team’s experience with the Kings under pressure.
The Bittermen capitalized on the Kings’ failed attempt at a layup, and responded with a three-pointer of their own to decrease their deficit to 62-58.
After a Bittermen’s turnover, Kings forward Thad Fleeton went down for layup to increase the Kings’ lead to 64-58.
“I think that our overall energy was good and our communication was good on the court,” Fleeton commented after the game.
The Bittermen made two free throws with only 46 seconds left in the fourth quarter. However, it was not enough to change the momentum of the game. The Kings countered with a made free throw and a steal that led to a score as they went on to win the game.
Before the start of the fourth quarter, Kings Coach Orlando Harris emphasized to his players that they were expected to make good shots, with an inside-out offensive game plan.
“Overall, I think they performed well,” said Harris.
He also said, “We’re not where we exactly want to be as a team yet. (However), I was impressed with my players’ poise and sportsmanship. I liked the ways they conducted themselves as men representing the San Quentin Kings basketball program.”
After the game, Beltranchuc commented, “It was a long time since I played basketball. I have to get back to practicing. The more I play with my teammates, I know I will get better because I will get used to them.”
Beltranchuc also said he is honored by the selection as the only King of Mexican background, and this motivates him to positively contribute to his team’s success this season.