The West High boys basketball team ended its preseason on a high note, coming from behind at halftime to defeat Lincoln, 60-55, in Stockton on Wednesday.
The Wolf Pack finished the preseason with a 12-5 record and will open Tri-City Athletic League play at home Wednesday against Stagg.
Senior forward Justin Phillips scored 19 points — but via a different route than normal, hitting only one 2-point basket but notching three 3-pointers and shooting 8-for-14 from the free-throw line.
“People have scouted him and they’re taking certain things away,” West coach Steve Thornton said. “But he did take the ball to the basket tonight … he’s been developing more of a total game. His versatility really helps.”
The Wolf Pack also shot 16-for-29 from the free-throw line as a team. That percentage — 55 percent — isn’t outstanding, but the Trojans (8-8 preseason) shot only 5-for-18 from the line, providing the margin of victory and then some.
Lincoln big man Alex Zendejas dominated the paint to knock in 19 points, and Thornton said the Wolf Pack had a tough time defending him once he got the ball.
But Bryan Tilos and Aaron Gori both hit two 3-pointers, and Frankie Bonifacio hit another for a team total of eight. Lincoln only hit two.
“We live and die with the 3-pointer, so we have to continue to get eight to 10, 11 3s a night in order to be competitive,” Thornton said.
The Wolf Pack hit a school-record 15 3-pointers Dec. 19 against Beyer.
Beck and Bonifacio both scored seven points Wednesday, and Christophe Chaubard came off the bench to add eight.
“He makes the most of it when he gets in there,” Thornton said. “He gives us a spark all the time — he plays with a lot of energy and intensity.”
The Wolf Pack’s veteran coach said he’s pleased with the preseason. West showed a marked improvement from last year’s 4-11 preseason record, but to be competitive in the TCAL, the Wolf Pack need more work.
“We need to continue to get better and play more consistently,” Thornton said. “We’re not good enough to relax and take a quarter or a half off.”
West will face Stagg at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Den.
(S) Lincoln 51, West 48
Andre Bolton scored 19 points and Richard Dellafosse added 10 as the Trojans managed to erase a five-point West halftime lead and squeak by the Wolf Pack (7-9) on Wednesday in Stockton.
The game was a marked turnaround from when the two teams met in the semifinals of the Tokay Tournament in December, when West lost by nearly 30 points.
“Tonight, we played them a lot tougher,” West coach Derek Sprecksel said. “It was tight the entire way.”
Sprecksel said the large amount of close games the Wolf Pack have played will serve them well in league play.
(F) Lincoln 49, West 36
Anthony Wills scored 12 points, and Eric Green added nine in a 13-point loss in Stockton on Wednesday.
The Wolf Pack (9-5) did not score in the fourth quarter.