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March 15, 2011 > Castro Valley survives fourth quarter scare

Castro Valley survives fourth quarter scare

By Kevin Yin

California Interscholastic Federation Northern California DI boys basketball tournament's top-seeded team, Castro Valley High School, held off a late surge by fourth seed Oakland, prevailing 63-60 in the regional semifinals on Saturday, March 12.

Following the tip-off, Castro Valley wasted no time in seizing control of the game, jumping out to a 8-0 lead in the first two minutes, powered by two lay ups by senior forward Alex Foster.

After that, Oakland settled in, closing the lead to 17-13 right before the end of the first quarter when a steal and 3-pointer by Castro Valley senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt put the Trojans up 20-13.

Castro Valley would widen the gap in the second quarter, playing excellent team defense while relying on the scoring punch of senior shooting guard Juan Anderson and senior forward Chris Read. Anderson had 15 first half points, while Read scored eight points in the second quarter alone, including a put-back right at the buzzer to give Castro Valley a 41-28 lead going into halftime.

"We wanted to emphasize that defense is what has gotten us here," Castro Valley head coach Nick Jones said. "Our defense wasn't that great in the second half, but in the first half we were able to build that lead because of our defense."

The intensity would be ratcheted up in the third quarter, as both teams worked to increase the pressure defensively. Castro Valley was a bit hamstrung when Bobbitt picked up his fourth foul while trying to defend Oakland guard TJ Taylor on a drive to the hoop midway through the third period. Both teams combined for just 23 points in the third, with the score at 53-39 in Castro Valley's favor.

That's when Oakland's star guard Jabari Brown went to work. Brown scored 18 points in the final period, displaying a devastating offensive arsenal that included pull up jumpers, step back 3's and slashing drives through the lane. Brown's fourth quarter explosion trimmed the 14 point margin down to just three points at 63-60 with 12.6 seconds left.

After Bobbitt turned the ball over on an in-bounds play with 9.5 seconds remaining, Oakland had a chance to send the game into an improbable overtime. On the ensuing play, the Wildcats got the ball to Brown, but he was swarmed by Trojans defenders and passed to senior guard Jalen Headspeth, whose buzzer beating 3 from the left corner was off-line.

"That was a good game," Jones said. "Give Oakland High a lot a credit. They fought back, they didn't give up."

Brown finished with a game-high 26 points for Oakland. Senior guard Dominique Taplin finished with 15 points, while Taylor scored 12 points.

"I'm very proud of these guys," Oakland head coach Orlando Watkins said. "I told them, for all the ups and downs we had this year, for us to make it to this game and have a shot to send it into overtime with seven seconds left, it's Oakland High basketball, a testament to what they've been through all year."

Anderson led Castro Valley with 23 points, followed by Bobbitt who scored 14 points including three 3's.

"We've been waiting for this for four years. We've been knocked off every year, so this was a big win for us," Anderson said. "It feels good. We're proud of ourselves, but we've still got a ways to go."

Castro Valley will face De La Salle in a rematch of the NCS Finals on Saturday, March 19, at Arco Arena in Sacramento. The winner of that game will be named the Northern California Champion, and will face the Southern California champion for the state title.

Two other HAAL teams will also have the opportunity to win Northern California championships, as Bishop O'Dowd's boys team defeated San Marin, 52-49, to advance to the Division III NorCal Finals, while O'Dowd's girls beat St. Ignatius, 46-39.

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