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March 22, 2011 > Castro Valley suffers stunning upset in NorCal finals

Castro Valley suffers stunning upset in NorCal finals

By Kevin Yin
Photo by Mike Heightchew

Castro Valley High School boys basketball Trojans, the top seed in the Northern California bracket of the 2011 California Interscholastic Federation Division I Basketball Championships, was upset by second-seeded De La Salle High School, 49-43, on Saturday, March 19, at Arco Arena in Sacramento.

The pairing was a rematch of the North Coast Section playoffs' title game on March 4, in which the Trojans beat the Spartans, 60-42. That game had been a close defensive battle through three quarters, but Castro Valley broke it open in the fourth quarter, eventually winning by a deceptively-comfortable 18 points.

It was a similar story in Sacramento, but one with a different ending. A torturous defensive pace characterized the first half, with physical play by both team and tight control by referees on offensive contact creating an extremely slow tempo. Castro Valley led 19-13 at halftime, with no player on either team scoring more than six points.

"It was a physical game," Castro Valley head coach Nick Jones said. "If the refs aren't going to call fouls, that's going to be to [De La Salle's] advantage."

In the second half, it appeared to be going in the same direction, with Castro Valley holding a 29-23 lead late in the third quarter. However, a 3-pointer by Spartans junior point guard Amadi Udenyi with 30 seconds let in the quarter followed by a driving lay-up by forward Travis Pacos right before the buzzer suddenly sliced Castro Valley's lead down to one point at 29-28.

That spurt to end the third quarter turned out to be the start of a much greater run. De La Salle held Castro Valley scoreless from the two minute mark in the third quarter all the way to 3:12 remaining in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Trojans 18-0 to take a 39-29 lead. Pacos was prolific in this span, scoring 10 points, mostly on lay-ups.

"We're used to being down during the game," Pacos said. "We knew if we just stayed poised, not turn the ball over and believe in each other-which we did-we knew we were going to get the win."

The game then assumed an unexpectedly frenetic pace as Castro Valley tried desperately to repair the situation. Star senior shooting guard Juan Anderson, who had been held to just six points through the game's first 22 minutes, scored 10 points in the final three minutes, but the Trojans were unable to get needed stops on the defensive end to facilitate a comeback.

"I think that's the hardest thing in basketball, to stay consistent," Anderson said. "I didn't play consistent and by the time I picked it up, it was too late. It just happens like that sometimes."

Anderson led all scorers with 20 points. Castro Valley's other star guard, senior Roderick Bobbitt, was held to just nine points, though he did have four blocks and four steals. Senior forward Chris Read chipped in 11 points for the Trojans.

"We had a great run. I'm really proud of these kids," Jones said. "They have nothing to be ashamed of. They should hold their heads high and be proud of what they accomplished."

Pacos led De La Salle with 19 points. Udenyi's stats aptly reflect the all-around impact he had on the floor with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists. De La Salle will face Southern California champ Mater Dei for the state title on Saturday, March 26.

Hayward Area Athletic League's two other teams playing in Nor Cal championships fared much better on Saturday. Bishop O'Dowd's boys defeated El Cerrito, 50-32, to capture the boys Division III Nor Cal title. In the girls Division III title game, O'Dowd beat St. Ignatius, 48-39. Forward Oderah Chidom led O'Dowd with a game-high 19 points. The boys team will face Lutheran for the state title, while the girls are slated to play St. Joseph.

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