Foul trouble, slow start hamper Cougars in 69-44 loss
A game plan set in place called for a quick start, tempo control and assertiveness on the blocks.
For head coach Kaden Bahner and the Christopher High boys varsity basketball team, going into its Monterey Bay League opener those keys to victory seemed viable.
However, an Andrew Foster 3-pointer to knot the score 3-3 in the early stages of Friday night’s encounter with visiting Watsonville turned out to be the closest the Cougars would get to a lead in a 69-44 setback.
“I saw it in spurts, but for the most part we didn’t come out the way I thought we would,” Bahner said. “Credit to Watsonville, though.”
Foster finished with nine points, Nick Cordova quietly deposited eight points, all in the second quarter, and DJ Campos led the way with a team-high 15 points.
A 9-0 run by the Wildcatz following Foster’s trey put the Cougars down 15-3 with three minutes to play in the opening quarter.
“They were playing pretty good defense. Our plays weren’t running right,” Cougars guard Wyatt Rocheleau said. “We had a good week of practice. We just kind of came out a little off tonight. This game was a good wake up call now that league is starting that we will have to step it up a notch.”
But despite flashes of potential – Ryan Fredricks hitting a cutting Campos for an easy layup to get the Cougars within 10 points – the Wildcatz (11-3 overall, 2-0 MBL) quickly increased their grasp on the advantage, scoring two quick buckets while enforcing a trap defense that had the Cougars a bit discombobulated getting the ball into the offensive zone. The gap never closed to a reasonable amount in a proverbial case of one step forward, two steps back. And by the end of the first quarter, the Wildcatz distanced themselves from the Cougars 24-9.
“We needed to execute better,” Foster said. “We came out cold.”
Foul trouble contributed to the Cougars struggles in establishing a rhythm on offense. And their best post threat and paint defender, sophomore Takoda Bowers, picked up three first-half fouls and had to spend a majority of the second quarter on the bench adding to the downward spiral and leaving the Wildcatz 6-foot-7 center Ivo Basor to roam relatively unchallenged in the lane.
Basor struck for a game-high 23 points including 11 in the second quarter as Watsonville built a 44-23 halftime lead.
“We have to not play scared and just attack the basket and not worry about who’s out there on the court,” Rocheleau said. “We have to have that intensity no matter who they are. We have to execute and, if we do that, it’s going to come out closer than that one.”
The Cougars (3-8 overall, 0-1 MBL) remain in Gilroy and host Seaside in another installment on MBL basketball Tuesday night. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.