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GECKOS CROWNED ISA CHAMPIONS, END 12-YEAR DROUGHT

GW snatches 2024 ISA title from defending champion Bulldogs

By Carmen Gogue

The George Washington Geckos are back on top of the basketball podium after outscoring the defending ISA Boys Basketball League champions, the Okkodo Bulldogs 41-38 in a nail biting fourth quarter finish Saturday evening at the Southern High gym.

Senior Kaden Apiag led the Geckos with a game-high 15 points. Teammate Darnell Camacho was right behind with 14 points and 13 big rebounds.

It has been a dozen years since the last boys basketball title for GW. Head coach Desmond Mandell now has an ISA championship under his belt with this season being his first time coaching the Geckos.

Junior varsity coaches Lance Gogue and VJ Borja saw flashbacks to 2012 as they were part of the Geckos team that brought the last title to GW.

FIRST HALF ADVERSITY

The Geckos and Bulldogs fought for the lead early going toe-to-toe on defense to transitioning on offense to put points on the board ending the first quarter 13-12 with Okkodo ahead.

The Bulldogs opened the second quarter big with a short jumper and a banked floater from ISA MVP Monte Cabrera combined with teammate Jude Lopez’s pair of made shots to attack the Geckos defense. Cabrera then hit a three-pointer giving the Bulldogs an 11-0 run over the Geckos increasing the lead to 24-12.

GW answered back with Camacho dominating in the paint for two baskets and a made layup from Djay Osborn to keep the Bulldogs within reach ending the half 24-18.

FOURTH QUARTER VICTORY

Despite the Bulldogs leading in the first half and the end of the third quarter at 34-29, the Geckos have proven more than once that they can make a comeback in the end by focusing on their defense to fuel their offense.

“We knew that it would come down to our defense and if we could stay close to our defense our offense will get some looks. They’re [Bulldogs] a really good defensive team and really, a lot of stuff that they do is what we try and do because we kind of have the same philosophy.” said coach Mandell

And just like Mandell said, the Geckos flustered the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter with a half court press and aggressive defense forcing turnovers and grabbing steals.

GW’s Daran Treltas was able to draw MVP Cabrera’s fifth foul to get him out of the game with 4:54 still to go. On the very next play Treltas went up for a layup drawing another foul with made free throws to close the Bulldogs lead to 34-31.

Going back and forth between possessions, GW’s Camacho was sent to the foul line after a rough layup attempt for another pair of free throws to draw his team to within one point 34-33.

A made free throw from Okkodo’s Robbie Haggard and a layup from GW’s Treltas tied the score 35-35 with just two minutes left in the game. Both teams continued to exchange ties up to 38-38 but a pair of layups from Camacho and Osborn together with Treltas single made free throw sealed the title win.

“We stepped up our defense and you know worked our offense. We knew that we were going to come back in the game,” said GW’s Camacho.

The Geckos made school history as this is the first year the GW boys basketball team has won both the junior varsity and varsity championships.

GW has earned their spot in the Champion vs Champion match and will face the IIAAG Champions on March 10 at the FD Pheonix Center.

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