Sports: Boys’ Basketball Season Ends with CCS Loss to Wilcox
Going into their first round CCS tilt against the Wilcox Chargers, M-A knew that intensity was a necessity.
Despite a feverish fourth quarter rally, the Bears’ season came to a close Tuesday with a 61-54 loss.
The Chargers broke out of the gate quickly, scoring the game’s first six points on layups. Senior Blake Olsen opened the scoring for the Bears, when at the 5:40 mark he floated in a left-handed running shot from inside the free throw line. The Bears’ offense seemed to be clicking when, following a Wilcox basket, senior Jamar Gaddis split a double team and found junior Grant Henninger for a layup. Before the Bears could gain momentum, however, Wilcox knocked down a corner three-point shot. A Henninger spin move to close the quarter left the Bears trailing 16-8.
In the second quarter, M-A’s offense went cold. “We just couldn’t knock down any shots and get into a rhythm” said senior Esteban Samra. Wilcox also ratcheted up their pressure defense, forcing a number of turnovers and converting those turnovers into two layups and a three pointer. “It was tough because we had such little time to prepare for that kind of defense,” added Samra. With 2:15 remaining in the quarter, and the Bears trailing 25-8, junior Deverick Meachem invigorated the team when he swatted away a Wilcox shot attempt. Junior Oliver Bucka, feeding off of this energy, scored two baskets in the final two minutes of the half, including a putback in the closing seconds, bringing the score to 25-12 Chargers.
The Bears started the third quarter looking to chip away at the deficit. After surrendering a basket to open the quarter, the Bears turned up the intensity. Olsen scored another runner in the lane, then converted a layup in transition after a nice pass from freshman Skyler Lautalo, cutting the Wilcox lead to nine points, at 29-20. Henninger scored in the post again, and Gaddis pulled up from deep three point range and knocked down the shot, making the score 29-25. However, the Chargers refused to cede the lead, closing the quarter on a 7-0 run highlighted by a three pointer. The quarter ended with Wilcox leading 36-25.
After the Wilcox run, the Bears regrouped and made another push in the closing quarter. The Bears trailed 46-30 with 5:40 remaining when junior Leland Callahan knocked down a three pointer, which cut the Chargers’ lead to 13. A minute later, junior Ryan Roberts stole the ball from a Wilcox guard and converted a layup, then, scored another layup with a foul, pulling the Bears within eight, 48-40. From there, Gaddis took over, knocking down a pair of jump shots followed by another long three pointer at the 2:18 mark, tying the game at 50. The Bears then committed a foul and surrendered one point on a free-throw. With a minute remaining, senior Alex Aguiar hit a jump shot to put the Bears up by one, 52-51. After Wilcox responded with a basket of their own, Roberts drew a foul of his own, then stepped to the line and buried both free throws for a 54-53 lead. However, the Bears ran out of gas, as the Chargers converted a basket with a foul, then sunk the free throw, taking a two point lead. From there, the Bears could not find the basket, and Wilcox iced the game with five free throws.
The loss ends the Bears’ season. The team finished with a record of 11-15, and returns all but five players next year. “I’m proud of how resilient we were. Despite a poor beginning, we continued to fight to the very end. That showed the real character of the team and the program,” said Olsen.