On Tuesday night, the boys’ varsity basketball team defeated the Tam Hawks 52-46 in an intense showdown. The Hawks and the Giants came into this game nearly evenly matched, with Tam slightly leading over Redwood with a 13-4 overall league standing.
Redwood came in with a 12-5 record, but after the win they are now tied with the Hawks at 13-5.
According to head coach Steve Compagno, the Giants prepared by watching film of past games and practicing strong defense. Senior guard Alex Diaz knew the team was in for a tough challenge against Tam, but was satisfied with the way the team played.
“We knew it was going to be a big game; [Tam is] one of our rivals and we knew they were going to have a lot of kids here and that they were going to come out with intensity. We’ve been prepping for them and I’m proud of all 15 boys tonight,” Diaz said.
Redwood started strong in the first quarter, with senior guard Drew Jacks scoring twice for the Giants in the first few minutes. A loose ball recovery and a three-point shot by senior Alex Diaz propelled Redwood to a 19-13 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter lacked some of the earlier scoring success as both teams focused more on the defensive front. Other than three two-point scores by junior forward Brandon Radu, junior guard Chance Farrell-Martin, and Jacks, the score relied on the free throws resulting from multiple fouls on Redwood players. Going into halftime, the Giants led 27-21.
According to assistant coach Mike Warson, Redwood focused in on strengthening their defense during the break. Warson hoped that a more calculated defense would translate to offensive success against the Hawks, who have an overall higher points-per-game average of 57.4 compared to Redwood’s 54.
“During halftime it was a case of taking care and cleaning up on fundamentals. For us, it’s always about playing defense. If we play good defense, then things happen easily on offense. We emphasized that and it paid off tonight,” Warson said.
However, the payoff for the Giants was not immediate. Tam caught up to Redwood quickly during the third quarter, bringing the game to a tie at 27-27 with four minutes remaining in the period. Despite Diaz’s strong defense against the Hawks’ point guard, Tam and Redwood remained neck-and-neck throughout the third quarter and halfway into the fourth. The crowds grew restless and tensions on the court arose, but the team was able to focus in and ignore the chaos, according to junior Miles Squiers.
“We didn’t talk too much during the game, which I think helped keep [the team] focused. If we were frustrated, we communicated with our team [off the court],” Squiers said.
At three minutes left in the last quarter, Squiers sunk a game-changing three-pointer to bring the score to 38-35 Giant lead. The shot was a turning point in the game, lifting the spirits of the Giants and hyping up the already excited Redwood student section.
Pressure on the court in the last minutes led to fouls on multiple Redwood players, allowing for three points to be scored through free throws by Farrell-Martin and Radu. Radu also scored two more points to bring the game to a 43-35 Redwood lead.
With only two minutes left to claim the win, the Giants put all their effort into gaining possession of the ball and rushing the
basket. Despite the Hawks gaining some ground on Redwood in a furious final few minutes, senior Omar Elliott-Diab posterized an opposing defender. Elliott-Diab’s coaches were especially proud of his performance during this game.
“Omar tonight was the player we knew he always could be. Defensively, offensively, he was just a man amongst boys,” Warson said.
Elliott-Diab’s teammates were also impressed with how he played.
“Omar’s slam with about a minute and thirty left put us up seven; I think it was beautiful. He played a kid six feet under with that,” Diaz said.
With 10 seconds left, Tam students in the stands lost hope and promptly left the gym as the Hawks scored a free throw. A final foul on Jacks and two easy free throw points left the Giants victorious at the buzzer, defeating Tam 52-46.
Amidst the adrenaline of the victory, the Giants remained appreciative of the effort of every teammate to earn the win, according to Elliott-Diab.
“It was fun, playing hard, going hard. We pulled [a victory] out, and that was great. It’s just rewarding, and it’s a great team win,” Elliott-Diab said.
Redwood boys’ varsity basketball will play against Drake this Friday, Jan. 19 at home at 7:30 p.m.
Watch GIFS of the Giants shooting and scoring: