Boys’ varsity basketball loses heartbreaking game against Marin Catholic after thrilling overtime period

Sofia Ruliffson

On Tuesday, Dec. 7, the boys’ varsity basketball team played an intense home game against their rivals, Marin Catholic (MC), for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic. The Giants fought hard until the final seconds, but suffered their second defeat of the season at the hands of the Wildcats with a final score of 52-49. 

Applauding the players, the gymnasium fills with enthusiasm as the Giants provide support for their fellow teammates on the court. (Photo by Arjun Aujla)

As the Giants took the court, they knew victory would not be easy. With MC as the number one team in the county, winning four out of their six games, the Giants scouted out their opponents in preparation for the game. 

Once the game began, Redwood powered ahead. Junior Brady Weingart made a three-point shot, ultimately helping increase the scoring gap between the teams as the first quarter came to a close ending with a 14-8 lead. During the second quarter, junior Jacob Friedman made a series of steals, increasing the score to 28-14. As the first half of the game came to a close, the Giants dominated with a 14 point lead. Three-point shots were crucial, as they helped make 26 percent of the overall points. As the Redwood team proceeded to the locker room at the beginning of halftime, fans received an enthusiastic show from the cheerleaders, strengthening their excitement and morale for the second half of the game. 

When the third quarter began, Redwood players contributed to a significant number of fouls, allowing the Wildcats to score several points via free throws. However, the Giants did not lose hope, and instead, began to step up their game by utilizing timeouts to map out their next moves on the court.  

As time was running out, the competition on the court severely increased. The Wildcats continued to fight back, making their way up the scoreboard through sneaky steals and strong blockings from MC’s Dylan Ryssemus. The tension between the two teams resulted in a thrilling four-minute battle in the fourth quarter with the Wildcats shooting free throws due to Redwood’s fouls. The Redwood student section as well as the players on the sidelines overflowed with adrenaline. When Kyle Winters scored a series of three-point shots, the eyes in the audience grew sharp, while fans slowly and painfully watched MC make their way up the scoreboard. As the buzzer went off at the end of the fourth quarter, there was a tie score of 44-44 leading the game into overtime. The Giants made sure to keep an eye out for Winters during the entirety of the game, as he played a key role in the Wildcats’ victory by scoring 26 of MC’s 52 points.

Determined to gain the lead, Redwood players Eli Whitney, Aiden Squiers and Jake Vasquez strategized on the court, cautiously looking for the right moments to pass the ball. However, this did not last long once Winters participated in multiple fast breaks and steals, which helped MC regain the lead.  

Jay Demaestri, the head coach for the Redwood boys’ varsity team, explained that despite Winters, Redwood encountered other challenges on the court. 

“We knew we had a key on [Winters],” Demaestri said. “But at the same time, we [knew] he was going to get what he was going to get. [However], all that being said, it came down to one or two [missed] shots here and there, plus a couple offensive rebounds that we allowed them to get.” 

While Redwood faced a devastating loss, Vasquez, a sophomore point guard, looks past the defeat and reflects on his favorite parts of the game, particularly during the last few minutes of the second half.  

“The highlight of the game was when Gil Ladetzky made five points in a row with clutch time in the fourth quarter,” Vasquez said. “What stirs our team [is] our chemistry. We worked well together and made great use out of our defense.”

Senior and forward Whitney appreciates the Redwood fans that enthusiastically supported the team throughout the game and his teammates who significantly contributed to their play. 

Cheering prior to the start of the game, Redwood students take over the stands. (Photo by Arjun Aujla)

“The student section was amazing,” Whitney said. “It was awesome to have all the support, especially after two years [without] it. [It was great] being able to see everyone step up, [especially] a lot of younger guys [because] we are a young team. Jake Vasquez stepped up hugely with a total of 12 points and Gil Ladetzky as well with a total of seven.” 

Demaestri is proud that the team kept the score close, and continued to fight until the final buzzer.

“Even though we ran out of steam in the second half, we were [still playing well] defensively, and fought until the end,” Demaestri said.“We could [have] easily lost it completely but we fought back and we pushed it to overtime. Once we rebuild our stamina, I have no doubt we will dominate through [the] championship.” 

As the varsity team continues their season, they are determined to put in the effort and dedication to excel in future games. 

 “We will need to adapt to an increase in stamina, but that won’t be a problem,” Whitney said. “That [condition] comes by playing more, and as the season goes on and we enter our second Marin County Athletic League (MCAL) game, we will get there.”

While Vasquez realizes the work that needs to be put in from the team, he also explains how the loss will be used as a lesson to work from.

“We are going to work on our weaknesses from this game, watch the film and get better [to] come back stronger than ever,” Vasquez said. “Coach talked to us about [how we were lacking] stamina [throughout] this game, and we can [improve] that.”

The boys’ varsity team believes that they will dominate the rest of the season, propelling them to win the championship. 

“I have faith and confidence in us going forward,” Whitney said. “We should have won, but now we must bounce back and keep going.” 

Redwood is ready to make a comeback at their second home game of the season against San Marin on Friday, Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.