MBK: Williams carries Vaqueros to SBCC Classic victory

Tejon Williams did it all for SBCC on Thursday night, coming within two assists of a triple double as the Vaqueros used a big second half to defeat San Diego Miramar 94-83 in the opening round of the 43rd annual SBCC Classic men’s basketball tournament.

Williams, a 6-1 freshman from Lancaster High, posted season highs in points (23), rebounds (13) and assists (8). For good measure, he added four steals and two blocked shots in the Vaqueros’ home opener.

Miramar (3-6) forced 13 turnovers in the first half, many with its full-court press, to take a 47-42 lead. Robert Hutchins scored 16 of his season-best 23 points in the opening half for the Vaqueros (3-6). There were nine ties and 16 lead changes in the first 20 minutes.

“In the first half, we let them speed us up,” said Williams. “In the second half, I had to get my team organized. We came out in the second half and capitalized on everything we wrote on the board at halftime. We calmed down and started playing our game.”

The Vaqueros scored the first six points of the second half and took a 48-47 lead on a layup by Martin Pedersen off an assist from Andrew DeLaTorre. The Jets went back up by five points, 53-48, before SBCC put together a 19-7 run and took the lead for good at 67-60 when a steal by Evan Tillman led to a layup for Williams.

Hutchins hit 4-8 from 3-point land and Pedersen drained 3-4 on a night when the Vaqueros hit 47.1 percent (8-17). Tillman, a 6-8 freshman from Sacramento, notched a season-high 22 points on 9-12 shooting with nine rebounds and five assists.

“We had 13 turnovers in the first half when they were trying to speed it up and trap us,” said coach Morris Hodges, who’s in his 26th season. “They had 15 offensive rebounds in the first half and we missed five or six layups right at the rim. Considering all that, I felt pretty good to only be down five points.”

The Vaqueros outscored the Jets 52-36 in the second half, thanks to a 64.5 to 24.4 percent advantage in field-goal shooting. Santa Barbara shot 50 percent for the game and held Miramar to 31.7 percent.

Marc Williams topped the Jets with 16 points, Stefan Zivkovic had 15 and Christion Johnson tallied 14.

“We cleaned up all the things we talked about at halftime and the guys executed really well in the second half,” Hodges noted. “What did they shoot, 24 percent? We really defended without fouling and we converted our layups.

“We started handling their press better and then they changed their defense. It’s always nice to play at home, you get a special energy here.”

A driving layup by Johnson cut the Vaquero lead to 73-69 with 8:23 remaining. Hutchins hit a pair of free throws, igniting a 17-4 run that gave the home team its biggest lead at 90-73. During that run, the Vaqueros hit three straight triples (two by Pedersen) to stretch the lead to 13 points with just under six minutes remaining.

Pedersen, a 6-4 freshman from Denmark, scored 13 points. Williams was 7-7 on free throws and Hutchins made 5-5 as the Vaqueros converted 16-20 foul shots while Miramar hit 66 percent (27-41). The Jets won the rebound battle 52-49, including 17-5 at the offensive end.

In other first-round games, Desert outlasted L.A. Valley 100-99 in double overtime; Ventura defeated Palomar 71-63 and Canada downed Oxnard 81-70.

The Vaqueros will take on Desert (4-7) in Friday’s second semifinal at 7 p.m. Palomar will play Oxnard at 3 p.m., followed by L.A. Valley vs. Miramar at 5 p.m. Ventura (5-5) will battle Canada (5-3) at 9 p.m.