Mel Wilkins, the coach of the Fontana High School basketball team, emphasizes to his players that playing good defense is of paramount importance, and they certainly followed his instructions on Nov. 30.
Continuing the success they have enjoyed at the start of the 2021-22 season, the Steeler men rolled to a 59-14 victory over Garey to raise their record to 4-1.
In fact, the Fontanans were so effective that they held Garey scoreless during the entire third quarter, enabling the locals to expand their halftime lead from 18-10 to 40-10.
“Defense is our strength,” Wilkins said. “Our defense set the tone tonight, and it paid off.”
Wilkins was unhappy that the Steelers took a while to warm up offensively.
“We had a very slow start,” he said. “But in the end, we turned it up, got more disciplined, and started executing.”
Sergio Avalos led the way with 20 points.
“Sergio has been shooting lights-out this season; he’s averaging more than five three-pointers a game,” Wilkins said.
Joshua Okolugbo did a fine job inside the key and cashed in 16 points, and Esteban Perez provided rebounding support.
In tournament action earlier in November, the Steelers conquered Vista del Lago (74-27), Rubidoux (71-50), and Moreno Valley (71-65) before losing to Valley View (65-43).
Wilkins has been a winning coach for more than two decades, and his girls’ basketball teams at Fontana A.B. Miller won CIF championships in 2007 and 2008. He was hired by Fohi in 2020.
“The A.D. and administrators have been very welcoming and they make me feel at home here, so I love it,” he said.