STOCKTON — Mohammad Ibrahim hit his 3-pointers at the right time for the Tokay High boys basketball team.
And although he Elliot Christian squad had perfect timing in crashing the boards in the loser’s bracket of The McDonald’s Classic at Weston Ranch High on Thursday night, Tokay made a close game in the fourth quarter into a 73-54 win over the Eagles. Teams that lost their Wednesday games played at Weston Ranch while the winners continued to play at Edison High.
Now 1-1 in the tournament, Tokay plays Buchanan of Clovis today, also at Weston Ranch, at 8 p.m. Elliot, at 0-2, will take on Lincoln at 3:30 p.m.
Tokay (1-6) entered the fourth quarter with a 47-34 lead. But Elliot (0-5) trimmed the score to 49-40, thanks to offensive rebounding efforts after first, second and sometimes third chance shots by many Elliot players. Josh Alejandre grabbed back-to-back offensive boards, missing his own shots, before the third one went to make it a nine-point difference.
“We allowed them to push us around; it’s something that we need to work on,” said Tokay coach Chris Boss.
Tiger guard Hamza El Kheidi hit a basket on the left side of the baseline to make it 51-40, the Eagles made it 51-42 when Zrebic Humphrey hit a shot in the middle of the paint, passed the free throw line.
After Tokay missed a basket, Elliot appeared to have established momentum on its side, boxing out Tiger players inside the paint and grabbed the basketball for more offensive rebounds and scoring opportunities. But the Eagles’ chances missed the rim that left the score in tacked.
Enter Ibrahim, who had a game-high 20 points.
Taking the pass from teammate Austyn Reiswig, Ibrahim dribbled a few times, stopped at the left corner of the arc to take a 3-point shot that saw nothing but net. That gave Tokay a 54-42 lead with 4:55 left in the game.
“Mohammed came up huge,” said Boss of Ibrahim. “When he’s in-step, he’s dangerous from out there.”
Shortly after Elliot guard Nate Gotgotao-Washington canned his own 3-pointer from near mid-court for a 54-45 score, Ibrahim continued to his shooting ways, hitting two more 3-pointers within a minute. That gave Tokay a 62-45 lead.
Elliot was guilty of three turnovers in the final two minutes of the game, all but two coming at mid-court thanks to the Tigers’ full-court press. That was a plus for Tokay, which went on an 8-0 run that included coast-to-coast baskets from Ibrahim, El Kheidi, Anoop Singh (nine points) and Reiswig (18 points) that cushioned the Tigers’ lead to 70-45.
“We got tired,” said Elliot coach Phil Williams. “We’re a young team and we have some kids that don’t have a lot of experience. I’m excited because they played hard.”
Gotgotao-Washington scored four of his 11 points on a four-point play toward the end of the game. Driving the right lane for a basket, the bucket was good as he was fouled on his shooting arm. Gotgotao-Washington went to the free throw line and made his shot for a 73-54 score.
The Eagles used a 3-pointer from Peyton Yarbrough to make it 39-30 halfway through the third quarter. But the Tigers also used offensive rebounds that led to El Kheidi scoring inside the paint for a 41-30 lead, Tokay finished the quarter on a 6-4 run that was relied on an Eagle turnover and more offensive rebounding efforts.
Tokay led 31-19 at halftime, and 15-6 after the first quarter. Eagle forward Roy Itcovichi scored 12 of his team-high 16 points in the first half.
Next to Ibrahim, Reiswig and Singh in scoring for the Tigers were El Kheidi with seven points, Jonathan Torres, Huzaifa Wasiq and Gurveer Badyal four each, Hamdallah El Kheidi three and Adam Johnson and Michael Shoaib two each.
Alexander Pinasco and Humphrey, along with Elliot teammate Ryan Ehersman, had six points each. Alejandre had four points.
Contact Mike Bush at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter: @MBushLodiSports.