With three key players injured for Thursday’s regular-season finale, the Oakwood boys basketball team was overmatched against an inspired Anchorpoint club hoping to send coach K.C. Adams out with a victory.
The Hawks lost 53-35, but their day was made long before the opening tip at Oakwood Country School when they received good news from coach Kort Jensen.
“Got the call from CCS this morning,” he said, “and we’re in.”
For the first time in program history, Oakwood is headed to the Central Coast Section playoffs.
The Hawks will play in the first round of the Division V tournament at either 5:30 or 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jensen said. Their seed and opponent will be announced Sunday at the CCS playoff meeting.
“It feels great – feels sensational,” Jensen said. “That was our goal this season, and to do with all underclassmen; for a lot of them, this is the most competitive basketball they’ve played … and they’ve responded well.”
The Oakwood players weren’t distracted by the big announcement.
“It definitely made us happy, but it didn’t change too much,” junior forward Harsh Sikka said of the Hawks’ approach. “This game was gonna mean a lot to us if we hadn’t gotten that ticket in. We were ready.”
The postgame celebration was slightly subdued by the loss, but Jensen and his young Hawks received plenty of congratulations.
“I’m proud of these guys, but I’m also proud of Oakwood,” Adams said. “The way this program has made CCS in three years under (Jensen) is unbelievable. He has them to where they’re going to be a contender in the next few years.
“They play hard for four quarters, and they’re going to the playoffs. Which is what we all want to do.”
Adams, who is leaning toward leaving Anchorpoint after this season, was satisfied to see his team finish 8-8 in Coastal Athletic League play.
“I’m really proud,” he said. “We’re all sophomores, so that’s a big thing, too. Technically we qualify for CCS, but we won’t go. All our guys got to play baseball anyway.”
The Warriors dressed six players Thursday but received more than enough production from guard Kelon Jones (24 points, six rebounds, eight steals) and forward Josiah Wylie (19 points, eight rebounds, seven blocks). The two combined for 13 points in the second quarter, as Anchorpoint went on a 15-0 scoring run to end the first half ahead 24-15.
Oakwood (14-7 overall) was in command early but came apart with turnovers and fouls. Once the Hawks’ 6-foot, 7-inch center Justin Mortensen picked up his third foul with 4:23 left in the second quarter, Anchorpoint went for the jugular.
“Once the big guy got in foul trouble, we just attacked the rim a little more,” Adams said. “It was hard for them.”
The Hawks were without Brett Hall, their leading scorer, and Sam Lai, who was first-team all-league in 2011.
“Having those guys out hurt us,” said sophomore guard John Angulo, who led Oakwood with 13 points on 6-of-14 shooting and six assists. “We played our hearts out, but it just wasn’t enough.”
Junior forward Ryan Salamon had 12 points and 10 rebounds while filling in for Hall at guard, and Sikka went for six points and 13 rebounds.
Wylie, who made 7 of 15 from the floor, gave Anchorpoint’s its biggest lead, 42-23, on a jumper with 20 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Hawks upped the tempo on defense to start the fourth and were able to cut the deficit to 47-35 with 2:30 to play, but the Warriors never lost control.
“If it is my last game,” Adams said, “it’s a good one to go out on.”