Despite a heroic last stand, the Sonoma Academy Coyotes brought down the Tech High Titans, 72-27, last Friday in a match held at Tech Middle School.
Even before the game started, victory for the Titans was always a bit of a longshot. Sonoma Academy is presently first and undefeated in their league.
Not only that, last year the Titans lost a significant portion of their team to graduation. For a small school like Tech High, it’s difficult to rebuild a varsity basketball team and having to do it every four years from scratch is certainly no mean feat. Five of the twelve players on the team are freshmen, which means the Titans lack the heft that a bigger, older team, like the Coyotes.
“All we can do is have a high level of energy and play as hard as we can. We’re out matched. We’re young and small—you can see the height difference,” Titan coach, Stan Cramer, said. “We didn’t give up. We played hard all the way through and I can’t ask for anything else.” That difference in size proved telling.
When Coyote Chance Colbert pushed past the mid-court line, two Titans sallied forth to contest him. Colbert, not seeing an opening, dumped the ball through the waving Titan hands to his teammate, Sebastian Gonzalez.
Gonzalez maneuvered his way around the edge of the three-point line, but he couldn’t quite find an opening either. The shot clock ticked towards zero. With no other choice, Gonzalez dove into the paint. He muscled the two Titans covering him aside and took the shot. The ball sailed over the Titan’s outstretched fingers and through the waiting basket.
Despite their opponents’ physicality, the Titans held their ground. They made up for what they lacked in size with agility.
Titan freshman, Andrew Campbell, showed this best when he snatched the ball from the Coyotes at the mid court line. The theft didn’t sit well with the Coyotes and they moved in to take it back. Campbell ducked and weaved through a forest of hands. The rest of the Titans lagged far behind.
Campbell moved into the paint as the Coyotes swarmed around him. There was no way he could get an accurate shot off through the mass of bodies, so Campbell did the next best thing: he faked one. It worked perfectly. Five sets of feet left the court to intercept the ball that wasn’t there. In the gap between the Coyotes’ jump and their landing, Campbell launched his real shot. This one fell through the net.
“It all starts from the bench—clapping for your team, giving them a pat on the back,” Campbell said. “I notice that if we get down and nobody talks to each other on the bench then we start to give up, but if we keep it loud and keep it proud then we keep on going.”
The clock ticked towards the end, but despite the Coyotes’ significant lead, the Titans still held a bit in reserve.
That bit was Sam Morrow. Whereas the rest of the Titans held back and focused on three point shots or skirmishing around the periphery, Morrow plunged head first into the scrum, muscling his way through the larger Coyotes through sheer aggression.
Late in the second half, Morrow caught a rebound after an attempted Titan three-pointer bounced off the rim and landed at the free throw line. He wasted little time in launching his attack. The Coyotes moved to block. It was rough going as the Coyotes formed a solid wall of muscle, but Morrow used the momentum from his charge to leap shoulder first into the pair of defenders, bowling through them.
One clung to his jersey. Morrow went for the layup. It was good.
“I tell the kids all the time how lucky they are to be playing California High School basketball. Enjoy this, win or lose. It’s just really fun to watch,” Coyote coach, Luc Martin, said. “Tech is always really good. They’re a little bit down right now, but they’ve had some great players over the past four or five years.”
Next up for the Titans is an away match against St. Vincent de Paul in Petaluma Feb. 1st. It will be their third to the last game of the season.