Basketball Beats De La Salle for NorCal Crown

Jessica Rosiak, News Editor

The boys’ basketball team upset the De La Salle Spartans 54-49 to claim the NorCal Championship title on March 10. The win would have given the team the chance to compete for the State title for the 2nd year in a row but the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) canceled the state championship game due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Junior Emmanual Callas said that the team had a “really strong 1st half” against the Spartans, which “built up a pretty good lead.”

The private-school powerhouse did not fold, however, forcing the Cougars to maintain their poise through the finish. “We held strong to [the lead]; we knocked down free throws at the end and came out with the win,” said Callas.

Callas attributed the victory to a lack of turnovers – his squad had only 2 during the entire game – and the team’s ability to “fluster the defense” with an unexpected offensive scheme.

Senior Rexford Curtiss said that the win “puts the Campo name and the basketball program on a pedestal,” with Campolindo having a relatively small school student population relative to De La Salle.

After winning State in Division II last year, the team moved up a division for the 2019-20 season. The move to DI was not a problem, according to Callas. “The team this year is a little bit better as we have guys who have worked on a lot of their games, and we’ve played on a big stage a lot,” he said.

While the players competed in front of a packed house, some fans who had prepaid for tickets were not allowed into the gym.  De La Salle reportedly oversold advanced tickets, leaving many Campolindo supporters stuck outside the venue. Leadership teacher Lindsay Webb-Peploe said, “We spent our time, in what I fondly refer to as Tightwad Hill, outside the doors wanting to get in.”

Though there appeared to be room for more spectators to view the contest from a “grand foyer,” it was deemed unsafe by a fire marshal, according to Webb-Peploe.

Nevertheless, Curtiss said that the Campolindo fans who were admitted “really turned it on.”

“They brought so much energy, and it was basically a home game for how much they were cheering for us,” Curtiss admitted.

While the victory would have normally advanced the squad to the state championship, this year’s state title game was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The cancelation “is pretty heartbreaking,” said Curtiss. “None of us are going to get to see the season all the way through, especially because we’ve just won our past 3 games on the road. We were placed as the 7th seed, so we weren’t even expected to get past the 2nd round.”

“It wasn’t the championship we wanted to get to, but it was a championship nonetheless,” said Curtiss.