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January 7, 2009 > Milpitas Basketball at Cain Classic

Milpitas Basketball at Cain Classic

By Idorenyin Uto-Uko

The Mipitas boys basketball teams looked to heat up their home court during the 26th Annual Cain Classic, Friday, Jan. 2, through Saturday, Jan. 3, but their efforts fell short in the four-team varsity and Freshmen/Sophomore tournament.

The Trojans varsity team played a tough team from Wilcox (8-2) in the opening round, Friday night. Milpitas began the game well but was overmatched by Wilcox's quickness and sharp shootingm, as they fell, 47-39.

Milpitas' bright spot came from L.A. Deguzman, who led all scorers with 16 points. Deguzman's ball handling and crucial three points late in the fourth quarter kept the Trojans close, but it was too late as the Trojans (2-10) were seeking to get back on the winning track and play for the championship game on Saturday. Instead, they settled for the consolation game.

During the contest, the Trojans faced 2006 Central Coast Section (CCS) champion and state finalist, Oak Grove. That didn't matter to the Trojans as they played with pride and a relentless effort that has become associated with Milpitas athletics. The two perennial high school powerhouses showed they could lay it on the line on the basketball court, and not just the gridiron.

Oak Grove struck first with a 3-pointer in the first quarter from Kwame Mitchell. However, the Trojans would not allow the Eagles of Oak Grove to soar as they would utilize the height advantage of 6-foot-6 senior David Sandy. Sandy's scoring and defensive contributions helped keep the Trojans in the game during the first half as the Trojans led the Eagles at halftime, 17-15.

Unfortunately for Milpitas, there was another half to play. "One of my biggest concerns is that we do not have late game experience," said Milpitas Head Coach Champ Wrencher. Late game experience is exactly what they needed in the second half as they came up short in the final three minutes of the game.

After four lead changes, the game came down to free throws that Milpitas did not capitalize on. Nate Nocolocchia made two crucial free throws with 2:30 left to bring the game to 36-37. Milpitas would show a lot of poise by blocking a shot by Oak Grove's Lawrence Payne, grabbing the rebound, and placing it in the hands of Deguzman, who was fouled with 1:24 left. Deguzman would make only one of his free throws as he tied the score at 37-37.

On the next possession, Payne would redeem and score on a lay-up. Oak Grove went on to win, 42-37. Payne ended the game with 16 points. For Milpitas, Deguzman finished with 12 points and was selected to the All-Tournament Team.

Despite the two tournament losses at the classic, the Coach Wrencher believes his team can finish well in the El Camino division of the Santa Clara Valley Athletic League.

"Our goal is to finish in the top three in the league," said Wrencher. "If we play the way we are capable of playing, we should be able to be with the top half of our league."

The Milpitas Freshmen/Sophomore team won their third place game in a dramatic 41-39 overtime win against Fremont-Sunnyvale. With only 0.9 left on the clock, Jordan Lockett received a baseball-pass inbound throw from Nick Rodriguez, and iced the victory for the young Trojans

"We knew we were still in the game at the end and heading into overtime," said Freshmen/Sophomore Coach Nate Dixon. "Our team played great."

The Cain Classic is named in honor of former Milpitas coach and teacher, Steve Cain, who is in his second year of retirement. Cain coached and taught at Milpitas for 38 years. He had 668 wins during his tenure, and is the All-Time CCS leader in career wins.

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