Fish dominates Branson in thriller to capture the No. 1 seed in MCAL playoffs

Arjun Aujla

Ains Fish looks over to coach Jay Demaestri for the next play call.

On Saturday, Feb. 4, the boys’ varsity basketball team defeated the Branson Bulls in a thrilling game by a final score of 51-44. Developing a rivalry, these two teams have been playing tough against each other for the last five years, proving to be the top dogs in the Marin County Athletic League (MCAL). The Bulls defeated the Giants by 18 points in their first meeting this season, and that game seemed to serve as a wakeup call for the Giants. 

“Last game, we weren’t in our moment and this game we really played together as a team and converted on our opportunities,”junior  Jake Vasquez said.

“[Coach Jay Demaestri] really put an emphasis on starting off strong which we did a great job of and that set the tone for the rest of the game,” senior Ains Fish said. 

Fish dominated on both sides of the ball finishing with a game high 26 points on 10-14 shooting, six rebounds and three steals. Jake Vasquez finished with 12 points and four assists followed by Gil Ladetzky with six points. 

It was senior night for the Giants and the student section, the“Forest” showed out to support the seniors and the team. The atmosphere was energetic and the team was able to feed off of it. The game started out fast and very back and forth. Throughout the first half, both teams went on little runs but the Bulls were able to maintain a small lead. Early foul trouble for Branson’s big man, George Gail, allowed Fish to be tremendously successful in the paint.

“In practice this week, it was definitely our game plan to try and get our bigs a look in the post and fortunately for us they were isolating it. We were expecting them to start double-teaming, but when the double wasn’t coming, we were executing,” Fish said. 

The Giants went into halftime down 19-24 and had a lead to overcome. However, the Giants came out firing and quickly gained a two point lead. They were knocking down their shots and Fish’s success continued. Going into the fourth quarter, the Giants were down one in their most thrilling game of the season. The fourth quarter was when the “Forest” came alive. The crowd was loud and was doing all they could to help their team win.

The Forest celebrates after Gil Ladetzky knocks down a dagger 3-pointer.

“We love the Forest. The Forest brings the energy and I think they are good for 10 points in a close game. We definitely don’t underestimate the Forest and I don’t think any team should. I think we have the best student section in MCALs, maybe even Northern California and maybe even the state,” Fish said.

The fourth quarter brought a truly electrifying atmosphere. The crowd was loud and the Giants were playing well. With two minutes left, the Giants had a four point lead and had the ball. Gil Ladetzky knocked down a dagger three-pointer to put the Giants up by seven with little over a minute remaining in the game. That shot iced the game and the Giants would end up winning 51-44. 

They clinched the No. 1 seed for the MCAL playoffs and will face the winner of the play-in game between Marin Catholic and Terra Linda on Wednesday, Feb. 8 in the semifinals at Phil Roark Gymnasium.