Lyon Hockey

NCS title eludes Marin Catholic

  • KENTFIELD CA – FEBRUARY 26: Marin Catholic’s Charlie Allen (5) drives to the basket during their North Shore Division D-IV boys basketball final against Marin Catholic University in Kentfield, CA, on Saturday February 26, 2022. The university won the game 67-80. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • KENTFIELD CA – FEBRUARY 26: Marin Catholic’s Kyle Winters (3) makes his way to the basket while being triple tackled by University defensemen in their Division D-IV boys basketball final North Shore at Marin Catholic in Kentfield, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The university won the game 67-80. Winters had 26 points for Marin Catholic. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • KENTFIELD CA – FEBRUARY 26: Marin Catholic’s Dylan Ryssemus (24) regains control of a nearly fumbled ball during their North Shore Division D-IV men’s basketball final against the University of Marin Catholic in Kentfield, Calif. on Saturday February 26, 2022. The university won the game 67-80. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

  • KENTFIELD CA – FEBRUARY 26: Players on the Marin Catholic bench look on as their run for the Division title comes to an end in the final seconds of their Coast Division D-IV boys basketball final north against Marin Catholic University in Kentfield, Calif. on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. The university won the game 67-80. (Sherry LaVars/Marin Independent Journal)

Kyle Winters had hoped to celebrate with his teammates on Saturday night, but instead of being all smiles, the players of Marin’s Catholic boys basketball team looked like they had been punched in the gut.

“It’s a disappointing loss. Sure, it hurts now, but we’re going to get over it,” Marin Catholic head coach Mike Saia said after his team’s 80-67 loss to University in the Division 4 Finals. section of the north coast.

The playoffs have been a bumpy ride for the Wildcats. After a 14-2 regular season run to finish atop the MCAL standings, the Wildcats suffered a first-round loss in the MCAL playoffs. Marin Catholic (22-9) bounced back from being seeded for the NCS playoffs and picked up wins in the first three rounds.

A loss to University (25-7) won’t stop Marin Catholic yet. The Wildcats are awaiting NorCal playoff standings results, which are scheduled to begin Tuesday.

“We will probably still have a good seed,” said Saia. “College coach Randy (Bessolo) and I were joking before the game that the loser might actually get an easier ranking for NorCal. Of course, you still don’t want to lose at the NCS.

The second-seeded college put a daunting lineup on the ground against the Wildcats, with 6-foot-6 junior Joey Kennedy doing most of the heavy lifting for the Red Devils. Kennedy, who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds, was helped by Jackson Boake (13 points), Roman Leraris (12 points) and Grant Lyon (11 points).

“They are all good,” Saia said. “They’re big, but they can all shoot all three, that’s their strong point. So you have to decide if you’re going to defend all three or if you’re going to keep them in the paint.

Winters led the Wildcats with 26 points and Noah Deitch added 10 points.

“We knew it was a dynamic team, a physical team,” Winters said. “We had a tough time in the first half, with some bad shots.”

The Red Devils took a 5-0 lead before Deitch put the Wildcats on the board with a 3-pointer. The Wildcats, unaccustomed to playing from behind, managed to stay within six points of University in the first period.

Back-to-back 3-pointers from Leraris within a minute of the second period widened the gap and gave University a 34-19 lead. Marin Catholic tried to come back into the game but only put a small dent in the Red Devils’ lead, which was 39-27 at halftime.

“After halftime, we trusted each other to come back,” Winters said. “We knew we could take them out. I never felt like the game was out of reach. We were going to fight until the end. »

Marin Catholic showed some spark early in the third period, until University went on a 10-2 run. The only points awarded to Marin Catholic during this run were when Kennedy accidentally tipped a defensive rebound into the basket for what would be called an own goal in hockey.

Perhaps this twist of fate was just what the Wildcats needed, as they went 10-3 to end the third period just eight points behind. Marin Catholic’s push didn’t last long in the fourth period, however, and after just three minutes the Red Devils were again leading by 14 points. From then on, the University had a tight grip on the reins.

“They are a good team,” said Saia. “We did not lose this match. We were beaten by a good team. We would have had to play an almost perfect match to beat them… We competed. We just need a better shooting percentage, and their defense has a lot to do with it.

The Wildcats came back from losses before finding victory. They hope to do the same next week.

“We have to trust in each other that we’re going to make the basket, that we’ll support each other, that we’ll fight until the end,” Winters said.