Wednesday, March 09, 2011

CIF NorCal State Division I Boys Basketball Playoff: Washington (SF) vs. Santa Teresa (San Jose)

I was working in Santa Clara today and realized that the Washington High Eagles boys basketball team would be playing in San Jose tonight against Santa Teresa at 7 PM in a CIF State Playoff game.  Since I was in the area (sort of, it was estimated to be some 19 miles + 30 minutes away), I decided to head over to the game.   Some thoughts......

The drive to Santa Teresa High School took about 40 minutes as I ran into rush hour traffic.  As I pulled into the school's parking lot, I was surprised to see a lot of cars already there.  As I walked to the gym, I saw a short line out the door.  It was then I knew I would be walking into hostile territory.

The environment was crazy.  Both sides of the gym were packed with fans (the majority of them Santa Teresa).  There was a student cheering section as well as cheerleaders.   The entire gym was loud, especially since Santa Teresa played well and eventually beat Washington 70-60.   I don't know if Santa Teresa is like this every game they play, but it was definitely a boost to their team and hostile to the visiting Washington team.

The Santa Teresa team deserves some credit too.   I haven't watched a ton of varsity basketball games this year but Santa Teresa was one of the better teams I have seen.  Santa Teresa shot the lights out from three point land, had great fundamentals,  played hard defense and crashed the boards.  In my opinion, Santa Teresa was probably the best team Washington had seen in recent weeks.   I don't think Washington had seen such a balanced team in a while and that proved frustrating.  Washington's defense couldn't lay back as Santa Teresa would hit the three's.  If Washington played tight, Santa Teresa was able to blow by the defenders.

The Washington team wasn't bad though.  While I am not a graduate of Washington, I had officiated one of their games during this past season and knew the coach personally.  After winning the San Francisco AAA championship against Mission last week (first championship since 1982), I was curious how Washington would do in the bright lights of the CIF State Playoffs.

Some of the things I had noticed during the AAA championship game came to light against Santa Teresa.  Washington and Mission both thrive on up tempo games as evidenced by the 75-72 final score in the championship.   I thought it was interesting that Washington didn't hit a lot of outside jumpers.  Most of their shots were put backs or layups.

This proved to be a key against Santa Teresa.  With Santa Teresa hitting their shots, Washington was forced to play half court and had trouble generating offense.  They went through a cold streak from halfway through the first quarter into the second quarter and allowed Santa Teresa to pull away to a 20 point lead.  Washington never really challenged after that.

While it was a tough night for Washington, they should keep their heads high for making a great effort.  Good luck to Santa Teresa as they travel to Sacramento for their next game.

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