No love was lost on the court between the Christopher High and North Monterey County boys basketball teams, as a tense, albeit brief benches-clearing scuffle delayed the game for about 15 minutes midway through the second quarter of a Cougars 67-25 victory over the Condors in Monterey Bay League action Friday night.
With the Cougars comfortably ahead 32-11 with three minutes, 36 seconds to play before halftime, a hard foul on CHS guard DJ Campos, who hit the floor hard under the Cougars’ basket, sent off a chain reaction and push literally came to a bevy of shoves. The situation escalated when players began filing off the benches. But the altercation was quelled as CHS administrators and both head coaches quickly got in the middle of the scrum.
After a lengthy discussion, the game’s officials assessed three technical fouls, two to the Condors and one to the Cougars. Those three players were also ejected. Consensus pointed to the incident as carry over from the two teams’ first encounter Jan. 16, where the Cougars contingent received an escort off the premises after a heated battle during a 66-51 CHS win.
Both teams walked straight to their respective locker rooms after the final buzzer Friday.
“We talked multiple, multiple times before this game that we didn’t want anything to escalate from the last time,” CHS head coach Kaden Bahner said. “Early on, there was some physical play that we did do a good job of avoiding. But, we do need to address some conduct issues just in regard to holding our emotions a little better.
“It was totally the right call by the officials. They were consistent. It’s unfortunate, but we have to have a short memory and learn from it.”
Cooler heads prevailed and there was little issue as the game continued. With CHS ahead by 40 points for much of the second half, a running clock was used.
“We come into a game and just play. We try and let our game to the talking,” CHS guard Wyatt Rocheleau said. “We have to be able to walk away from the situation and not get caught up in the moment.”
The Cougars, playing their third game in five days, were dialed in offensively in the first quarter. They outscored the Condors 25-7, using its defense as a catalyst for its offense. Freshman Dillon Day had six points out of the gate and Rocheleau had seven of his 13 points in the opening eight minutes.
The lead ballooned to 48-13 by halftime and 61-21 at the end of the third quarter.
“In a game like that, there is a tendency for the kids to dwell on what happened instead of looking at how they played the game,” Bahner said. “And I think we did some really nice things.”
Andrew Foster led the Cougars balanced offensive performance with 14 points. Day collected 11 points and Nick Cordova had nine. A.J. Ellis and Evan Shapiro each had four points and Veasna Khay had two.
The victory comes on the heels of an 86-41 win at Pajaro Valley on Wednesday and a disappointing 74-73 loss to Seaside on Monday. Finishing the week 2-1 leaves the Cougars at 8-14 overall, 4-6 MBL and in fifth place with two more league games ahead of them before the league postseason tournament, which will feature the top-five league finishers.
“We are just trying to focus on doing what we need to do to keep us in the right placement for that tournament,” Bahner said.