BY GENE NARDI
The Royal Palm Beach High School boys basketball team hosted Santaluces High School on Thursday, Jan. 28, in a battle between two of the county’s top 10 teams. The Wildcats orchestrated a second-half rally to defeat the Chiefs 61-51, capping senior night festivities.
Jules Jasmin and John Blanchard combined for 32 points and 12 rebounds to lift the Wildcats over the No. 6 Chiefs.
No. 7 Royal Palm Beach tipped off slow and trailed the whole first half by as much as nine points at times. The Wildcats (15-5) closed the margin before the end of the half to 29-23 with more consistent play under the net.
The Wildcats found new life in the second half. Midway through the third period, they clawed back, chipping away at the Chiefs’ lead, to eventually grab their first lead of the game 35-31. The Wildcats did just enough to close out the third period 44-37, holding on to a narrow lead.
The Royal Palm Beach defense managed to maintain a 10-point margin from the Chiefs, holding them to just eight in the third period. A strong performance under the net and accurate passing to retain possession were key to the team’s second-half success.
The Wildcat defense was relentless, holding Santaluces to just 22 points in the second half. The 10-point margin continued through late in the game, and Royal Palm Beach managed to hold on to the 61-51 victory.
Jasmin racked up 17 points and 12 rebounds. Blanchard recorded 15 points. Jamal Richard also had 11 points for the Wildcats.
Royal Palm Beach finished the regular season 15-5. The district playoffs started this week, and the Wildcats will compete in District 13-7A. Royal Palm Beach is the third seed in the tournament and faced Olympic Heights on Wednesday, but results were not available by press time.
ABOVE: Wildcat Jules Jasmin finds a seam to go for the layup against the Chiefs.