PASADENA — With the first month of the season nearly complete, Hoover High boys' basketball Coach Jack Van Patten couldn't be more pleased with the effort turned in by his team.
Things have clicked early on for the Tornadoes, who have consistently been able to get their starters and reserves to play significant roles in leading them on their current winning streak.
On Tuesday night, Hoover turned to reserve junior guard Jashley Francisco to keep the winning streak in tact.
Francisco scored 11 of his game-high 17 points in the first half to power Hoover to a convincing 52-23 victory against Antelope Valley in a winner's-bracket contest of the La Salle/Temple City Holiday Classic at La Salle High.
Van Patten summoned Francisco off the bench midway through the first quarter and Francisco didn't disappoint.
"We started off well and our starters got us a good lead," said Francisco, who helped the Tornadoes to their fifth win in a row. "I came off the bench and things started clicking.
"I hit my first shot and then made my second shot. I knew from that point that I could do well."
Hoover, which will meet host Maranatha in another tournament game at 7:30 p.m. today, improved to 6-4. The Tornadoes raced out to a 16-0 lead in the first quarter and limited rusty Antelope Valley (0-5) to a pair of first-half baskets. The Antelopes, who last played Dec. 9 in the Falcon Classic at Crescenta Valley High, got a basket with 2:10 left in the first quarter from guard Kendall Middleton to make it 16-2.
Francisco registered five first-quarter points. Francisco recorded a steal and a layup at the buzzer to give Hoover a 20-2 advantage.
"We focus on defense first and it worked out for us," Francisco said.
Van Patten, whose team opened the tournament with a come-from-behind 63-59 win against Franklin on Monday, said the Tornadoes limited their miscues and made some key shots early against Antelope Valley.
"We are a team that can play pretty good defense and we are beating the teams that we should be beating," Van Patten said. "We've won some close games and that's because we don't turn the ball over.
"We've also got several guys who can do different things. With Jashley, he's one of our better shooters."
Hoover held Antelope Valley scoreless for a stretch of 10:10 in the first half. Hoover took a 31-2 lead on a basket by sophomore guard Teo Davidian with 2:51 left in the first half. The Antelopes finally broke their scoring drought when Middleton made a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded to end the first half to cut Hoover's lead to 33-5.
Francisco made a short jump shot to give the Tornadoes a 43-13 lead with 40 seconds left in the third quarter.
"We just have to move the ball around on offense and be able to take advantage of the open shots," Van Patten said.
Kyle Bernardo had eight points for Hoover, while Ryan Barsegian and Davidian had six points each.