On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the boys’ varsity basketball team pulled out the victory from the Marin Catholic Wildcats in the first round of MCAL playoffs for the first time since 2014. The Giants won 49-44 due to the team’s key free throw shooting and crunch time blocks by junior guard Miles Squires at the end of the game.
Senior guard Drew Jacks felt that the team came in pretty confident and understood what needed to be done due to previous experience from games this season against the Wildcats.
“We knew we had a better record than them. We were obviously the better team, coming into the game we had already beaten them twice in league play. So we knew what we had to do, we had a gameplan, and we just needed to take it to them on the defensive end,” Jacks said.
Photos by Maxim Kawashima
The Giants came out of gates a bit slow, allowing the Wildcats to take an initial seven point lead. But, Redwood was able to quickly answer back with points of their own by taking advantage of multiple fastbreak opportunities from turnovers given up by the Wildcats. At the end of the first quarter, the Wildcats were barely on top with a 12-11 lead over Redwood.
According to senior guard Alex Diaz, the Giants’ miscommunication allowed the Wildcats to take the lead at points in the game.
“We kind of got lost on some switches. We had some open threes off of some ball screens. We need to communicate better and set some screens,” Diaz said.
The Wildcats didn’t hold the lead for very long as Redwood began to change the momentum of the game. Once again, the Giants were able to utilize fast breaks to their advantage usually forcing the Wildcats to commit fouls. Redwood was able to pass the ball around the perimeter at a quick pace to find an open man for the shot or penetrate into the paint for points.
Junior forward Jack Gerson was highly effective at getting by defenders in the paint for step back shots or layups. At halftime, the Giants were up 24-21.
In the third quarter, the Giants had their quietest offensive stretch of the entire game. Even though the Giants kept up the amount of fast breaks they had in the previous quarters, they weren’t capitalizing on them as efficiently. The team missed a couple of layups, which cost Redwood points that could have avoided the score from getting so close.
Jacks said that mentally the Giants allowed the Wildcats to make the comeback that they did.
“It was all mental. We stopped going for rebounds, we stopped flying around on the defensive end, and on the offensive end, we weren’t swinging the ball for a long period of the shot clock. We were kind of having one shot and out, we just lost our discipline,” Jacks said.
The Wildcats ended up making their offensive push on the frenzied Giants as they began to execute in the paint and make three-pointers. The Wildcats took the lead of 32-31 at the end of the quarter.
But, the Giants’ offense surged back in the fourth quarter with great plays on both ends of the court by Squires. He was able to answer back to the Wildcats on offense with contested shot making. Squires was also able to make two huge blocks to end any chances of the Wildcats making a comeback. Squires finished the game leading in both points (13) and rebounds (9) while nearly getting a double-double.
Squires said that he was trying to leave everything on the floor in order to win which propelled his efforts on defense and offense.
“I would say it was all instinct. I had nothing in my mind except we need to win the game. Those shots and plays were stuff that I thought would help our team, nothing for showmanship,” Squires said.
As the Giants began to pull away, the Wildcats forced intentional fouls to try and take advantage of the, at times, poor free throw shooting by Redwood. This didn’t end up working for them as the Giants each made their respective free throws to keep extending the lead. The Giants were able to finish shooting 64 percent from the free throw line, according to MaxPreps.
Diaz said that the team did a great job continuing their efforts despite being down at some points in the game.
“I loved how we handled the pressure, in the end, we knocked down a lot of clutch free throws. I loved how we didn’t give up when we were down late against them. A lot of players stepped up and finished in the clutch,” Diaz said.
The Giants will be seeking revenge against the Branson Bulls Thursday, Feb. 15 at College of Marin at 7:30 p.m.
Squires states that the Giants cannot play the same game they did against the Wildcats in order to take down the Bulls.
“We need to play better. This was definitely one of our more sloppy games even with the win. We need to prepare and get more efficient on offense and defense. Branson is a powerhouse in our league and we need to be ready for them on Thursday,” Squires said.
Field goal percentage: 36%
Free throw percentage: 64%
Chance Farrell-Martin, Alex Diaz, & Drew Jacks-1