Fish leads boys’ varsity basketball to successful games at Valley Children’s Tip-Off Invitational in Clovis

Following a strong 2021-2022 season, the defending Marin County Athletic League champion Redwood Giants boys’ basketball team kicked off their season this past weekend at the Valley Children’s Tip-Off Invitational hosted by Clovis North High School. The Giants packed their bags and were off to Clovis on Thursday. The travel aspect is something that is different from the rest of the season and emulates a college program. Jay Demaestri is entering his fourth year as the head coach and enjoyed the travel with his team.

“It was a long three and a half hour drive on Thursday out to Fresno, but it was fun. We stayed in hotel rooms, we got [to shoot around] on Friday morning and we did a film session in the hotel. It felt much more like a college experience where you are on the road and you are not going home,” Demaestri said.

Senior guard, Johan Swildens, drives to the basket. (Photo by _djcphoto_)

 

The Giants took on Clovis East High School in their first game of the tournament and the season. The first quarter ended with the score tied up, but by halftime the Giants found themselves with a healthy 13-point lead which they maintained throughout the game. Redwood ended up winning their first game with a score of 53-40, a large team effort. The Giants shot a strong 48 percent from the field and finished with five blocks and four steals as a team.

“Our plan was to defend. “It was one thing we did last year and we need to make sure we do it again this year. We played Clovis East who in their first two games scored 94 and 73 points. We held them to 40 points, and towards the end of the game they didn’t have any answers for what we were doing,” Demaestri said.

Following the first game, the team was feeling confident but was aware that the job was not finished. Coach Demaestri preaches not getting too amped up after wins and not too down after losses. 

 

The team’s next game was against Bullard High School in the semifinal match of the tournament which was an extremely low scoring defensive battle. The Giants struggled to get their offense going and shot a collective 29 percent from the field and eight percent from the three-point line. Although the offense struggled, the defense kept the Giants in the game holding bullard to a 32 percent field goal percentage with help from seven steals and three blocks. The Giants ended up losing the game 37-34 but Demaestri was able to use it as a major learning opportunity.

“Defensively we were really good. We held a good team to 37 points and I [always] tell the guys that if we hold a team to 40 points then we probably win the majority of those games. Our offense wasn’t really clicking and we weren’t hitting our shots. There’s a lot of possessions that myself and some of the players want back but that happens and you have to learn to move on and not dwell on the past,” Demaestri said

 

After such a tough loss, the team was frustrated with their performance but were ready for redemption in their third game. Four-year varsity player and captain Ainsworth Fish was disappointed in his performance but kept his focus on the next game.

“We probably played one of our worst offensive games as a team, especially myself. We only put up 34 points even though we held Bullard to 37 which is pretty low. Everybody was feeling bummed about it but [Damaestri] told us to soak in the night and once we wake up the next morning to get it out of our head,” Fish said.

 

The Giants were set to play Arroyo Grande in the third place game in the Fresno State arena and were led by Fish who finished the game with 26 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

Captain Ains Fish fades away for a shot. (Photo by _djcphoto_)

“Everyone came into the game with a great mindset especially because we were playing in the Fresno State stadium. The lights were bright and we brought out 

the game in a bigger moment. I think it was more of a team effort,” Fish said.

The team bounced back offensively shooting 50 percent from the field and did not miss a shot from the  free throw line. Redwood won the game with a dominating score of 63 to 38. 

The boys play their first league match against San Marin tonight, Dec. 6, and then travel to Sacramento for the Edison Classic from Dec. 8-10.