Boys Knocked out of NCS Basketball Tourney

Lindsay Wilson, Staff Writer

It’s been a disappointing last couple of days for Campo sports due to the recent series of playoff knockouts, including the boys’ basketball loss to San Marin in the quarterfinals of the North Coast Section (NCS). After a Wednesday bi, second seed Campo was predicted to move on to the semis; however, the team did not execute, losing 57 to 62 to the 7th seed after a hard fought game.

After losing the opening tip off, the Cougars set off to a slow start. Players appeared to be somewhat rattled in the 1st and 2nd quarter, occasionally missing shots and making simple mistakes. At the end of the 1st half, Campo was down 26 to 33.

After a rollicking “Let’s go, Campo” cheer and an inspiring half-time speech from coach Matt Watson, the intensity of the players increased to start 2nd half. Junior Isaac Christian led the beginning of a promising comeback, down by 11 midway through the 3rd quarter. The tempo and physicality of the game increased as Campo fought back. Despite the crowd’s cheering and improved play, the team was still down, 47 to 54, at the end of the 3rd quarter.

With a diving save from senior Matt McCue and crucial penalty shots for junior Walter Brennan nearing the end of the 4th, Campo’s luck began to change. After the scoreboard hit 5 minutes, a succession of offensive plays followed, including McCue’s lay up and John Schmitz’s 3-pointer. The score was 55 to 56 with 4 minutes left..

Defensively, crucial blocks, such as junior Justin Dunn’s at the 4-minute point, helped the offense catch up to San Marin. At 2:45, sophomore Matt O’Reilly made both of his penalty shots to tie the game.

But, with 1 minute left Campo’s great comeback was silenced by a 3 pointer from San Marin. A foul in the last 38 seconds and a lay up at 20 ended the game.

Players, students, and parents alike emptied the gym with distraught faces and tears, as Campo was knocked out of NCS in only  the 2nd round.

Players and head coach, Matt Watson, attributed the loss to lack of focus and poor execution. The team prepared for the playoffs with their normal routine; however, sophomore Chris Hansen believes that the players went in somewhat overconfident. Hansen was surprised, feeling that the team played down to their competition and that more preparation would have yielded better results. O’Reilly agreed, “We didn’t start with a lot of intensity. We didn’t hit all of our shots.”

Although the loss was disappointing, the players never gave up, fighting until the final buzzer went off, according to Watson. Top-rebounder Hansen and top-scorer O’Reilly both suffered injuries to their wrists in the game. Hansen sprained his right wrist while blocking a player from falling on him and O’Reilly broke his wrist when fouled after a dunk. O’Reilly continued to play the rest of the game after the injury to his shooting hand. “I decided I needed to play,” he said.

Campo’s comeback at the beginning of the 3rd quarter further emphasized the team’s fighting spirit. Team leaders, such as McCue, Dunn, senior Jack Evans, junior Andrew Zolantokis, and Christian rallied the rest of the team, according to O’Reilly. Although the game started off slowly, the 3rd and 4th quarters were truly representative of the team’s intensity and skill. “We noticed that we were down, so we picked up the energy,” Hansen said.

Watson is proud of the team and their accomplishments. Seeded 2nd in NCS and losing to the number one ranked team in the championships of the Jesuit High School tournament, the team had an impressive record of 19-7. They also defeated their rival, Acalanes, by 30 points at each meeting.

Watson says that he will miss the good times he shared with the team and their hard work: “They’re a bunch of characters, very fun to be around.” Watson believes that the team fought very hard throughout the season. “As disappointing as it is, this doesn’t define them as people. They will be very successful in life,” he said.

The road to the state championships will continue for Campo boys’ basketball. Bishop O’Dowd, ranked 3rd in California, was invited to the newly created “Open Division,” a tournament for the top 16 teams for Division III in Northern and Southern California. By Bishop O’Dowd winning their game against Drake on Wednesday February the 27th, Campo as the 2nd seed in NCS took their place in Norcals.