March 8, 2011 > Trojans, Dragons win NCS hoops titles
Trojans, Dragons win NCS hoops titles
By Kevin Yin
Photos By Mike Heightchew
Castro Valley boys and Bishop O'Dowd girls basketball squads each capped their fantastic seasons by winning their division's title in the North Coast Section basketball playoffs this past week.
Throughout the season Castro Valley appeared to be a team on a mission, a mentality no more on display than on Wednesday night, March 2, as the top-seeded Trojans dominated fourth seed Newark Memorial in the Division I Semifinals, prevailing, 64-41, in front of a packed house at Washington High School in Fremont.
Castro Valley set an aggressive tone right out of the gate, pressuring Newark with a disruptive full-court press that produced repeated Cougar turnovers and visible frustration on the faces of the Newark players. The Trojans were able to build an 18-7 first quarter lead, aided by the transition opportunities provided by those Newark turnovers.
"Our focus was great today. There was no doubt that our intensity would be there," Castro Valley head coach Nick Jones said. "Newark has had our number the past couple of years."
The Trojans across the board athleticism was on full display, as their length and the quickness of their rotations denied Newark good looks at the rim and kept the ball out of the paint. Castro Valley led at halftime 31-13, largely on the strength of their strangling defense.
"Help defense is really important. It's something we really concentrate on," said Trojans guard Juan Anderson. "I just try to be a pest on defense."
The athletic margin between the two teams was punctuated in the fourth quarter when, with three minutes to play, Castro Valley point guard Roderick Bobbitt fed forward Alex Foster down the lane for an uncontested dunk that forced the basket to collapse.
"It's an absolute travesty that Alex Foster wasn't on the all-league team," said Jones. "He's been great for us all year."
Senior forward Kendall Andrews was the only Cougar who exhibited any ability to be consistently effective offensively. At halftime, Andrews had nine of Newark's 13 points; he finished with a game-high 18 points and collected eight rebounds.
Castro Valley spread out its scoring opportunities well, with four of its five starters reaching double figures. Forward Chris Read led the pack with 14 points, followed by Bobbitt with 13, then Foster and Anderson with 12 points apiece.
The Trojans then advanced to the Division I Finals against the No.2 seed, De La Salle on Friday night. The Spartans, champions of the East Bay Athletic League, are known for their highly proficient defense.
With two strong defensive teams, the finals match had a predictably defensive character, but Castro Valley pulled away in the fourth quarter en route to a 60-42 win. This is Castro Valley's first ever NCS title.
"Since the second half of the O'Dowd game, we've played the best basketball we've ever played at Castro Valley," Jones said. "This is huge. I'm happy, happy for the kids, happy for the community, for everyone."
Bobbitt scored a game-high 20 points, including 10 points alone in the decisive fourth quarter, where the Trojans outscored the Spartans 27-14. Anderson backed him up with 14 points. Senior forward Travis Pacos was the only Spartan who managed to reach double figures, finishing with 16 points.
Castro Valley now advances to the 2011 California Interscholastic Federation Division I State Championships. The Trojans are the No.1 seed in the Northern California bracket and as such will enjoy a first round bye. They will face the winner of the Serra-Franklin match on Thursday night, March 10, at Washington High School. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Castro Valley is not the only HAAL team that has a championship to celebrate. Bishop O'Dowd's girls won the Division III NCS title in dramatic fashion, defeating second-seeded Campolindo, 66-65, in overtime on Saturday, March 5.
Sophomore forward Kendall Waters had a huge game for O'Dowd, leading all scorers with 20 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Fellow sophomore forward Oderah Chidom contributed 14 points, while sophomore point guard Ariell Bostick scored 12 points.
O'Dowd moves on to the state championships as the No.1 seed in the Division III Northern California bracket. After a first round bye, the Dragons will face the winner of the Vanden-Acalanes match-up on Thursday.
Dragons boys squad also moves on to the state championships, but they do so in less auspicious circumstances. O'Dowd entered the NCS playoffs as the No.1 seed in Division III, but were upset in the Semi-finals by fifth-seeded San Marin despite 21 points by star junior forward Brandon Ashley.
O'Dowd enters the state championships as the six seed and will face Foothill High School of Sacramento on Tuesday, March 8, at 7 p.m.