Sports: Boys Basketball Advances to CCS Championship with Win Over Homestead
After a long season of hard work and determination, the boys basketball team has advanced to the Divison I CCS Championships, as well as qualified for NorCals. On Wednesday night, the Bears defeated the Homestead Mustangs in the semi-finals game, 60-46.
The Mustangs came out strong at the beginning of the first quarter, scoring first. The Bears answered their basket when senior Oliver Bucka put up a shot from the post. Senior Leland Callahan contributed three points and senior Deverick Meacham added two more as the quarter continued. The Bears struggled to focus their offense and fell behind by two points as the quarter ended, 9-7 Homestead.
The Bears stepped up their game coming into the second quarter, aggressively pulling down rebounds and fighting to stay with the Mustangs. Senior Royce Branning began the scoring, making both of his free throws, followed quickly by a jump shot. Junior Ryan Cole came into the game to add another two points to the board, and senior Ryan Roberts played strong defense, converting a steal into a layup down the court. Branning brought life to the team when he hit a three-pointer, tying up the game as the teams went into half time, 18-18.
M-A took the lead for several minutes of the third quarter, however a lead that later diminished when the Mustangs hit several three-pointers. Bucka and Branning both continued to play strong, as they racked up another four points each, and senior Markus Guegler scored another two points. Senior Brain Keare and Cole each added two more points to help the Bears end the quarter, leading 33-30.
With a close game entering the fourth quarter, both teams were anxious to get ahead. Callahan began the scoring by making both of his free throws, followed by two baskets from Bucka. Branning continued to lead the team as he earned seven unanswered points, sinking two three-pointers plus an added free throw shot. His intensity was visible on the court, and he helped fire up the M-A bench as they moved forward in the final quarter.
The Bears, already in foul trouble, played aggressively but smart, whereas the Mustangs got anxious and began to foul excessively with more than three minutes left in the game in attempt to stop the clock as much as possible.
With the Mustangs sending them to the line every couple of seconds, the Bears took advantage of the situation and went twelve for twelve on their free throws, thanks to the clutch performances of Roberts, Branning, and Guegler. Additionally, Callahan added a three-pointer towards the end of the quarter, shutting the door on a possible Homestead comeback. As the seconds slowly ticked away, the Bears grew closer and closer to their opportunity at the championships, as they defeated the Mustangs, 60-46.
“First half you could tell they were a little nervous. But after we settled down, I think we were fine,” commented Coach Molieri. “Royce [Branning] hit a big three that got us ignited, and we carried that momentum into the second half.”
Proud of his players, Coach Molieri made it clear that “all of the seniors are stepping up.” He continued to add that, “Royce has made it a mission to put the team on his shoulders, and that’s fine with us.”
Menlo-Atherton Boys Basketball had not won a CCS Championship game since they defeated Cupertino in Division II back in 1989. To this, all Coach Molieri had to say was, “We are not done with our mission.”
The Bears take on Bellarmine College Prep on Saturday night at 8pm at Independence Highschool, where they will battle for the title of Division I CCS Champions.