Take a look at the Mission Oak Hawks.
It would be foolish not think this team is capable of a bit more than an East Yosemite League championship — it is very difficult to find a destructive fault with their overall play.
Mission Oak opened up its quest for its first Central Section championship by playing the brand of basketball that left the entire EYL hapless: tenacious defense, game-defining short bursts of dominant offense that overwhelm foes and shattering any hint of their foes’ positive team morale.
Now it’s just a case to see if the Hawks can keep this up for at least three more games.
Mission Oak cruised into the Division III quarterfinals with a 78-33 thumping of the No. 15 Sanger Apaches in a first-round game Wednesday at Mission Oak High School.
“This victory brings up our confidence,” Mission Oak junior guard Bobby Alvarado said. “The difference between this year and last year at this time is that all the weapons we need are doing well. We’ve got good outside shooting, we can score inside. Everything is going well.”
No. 2 Mission Oak (25-3) will host No. 7 Roosevelt in a quarterfinal on Friday. Game time is 7 p.m. Roosevelt defeated No. 10 Fresno 70-58 on Wednesday. The Hawks and Rough Riders met earlier this season with Mission Oak winning 83-50 on Dec. 19.
Mission Oak entered the game averaging 74.4 points per game, and it hadn’t allowed more than 54 points in any game since Jan. 4. The Hawks’ average margin of victory in their previous 12 games was a tad over 32 points per game.
Wednesday’s game did nothing but improve on those numbers.
Alvarado and Matt Zorn each had 16 points to lead the Hawks. Blake Shannon and Derek Thomas each added 10 points, and freshman Austin Molezzo scored nine points.
Mission Oak opened sluggish by hitting just one of its first eight shots, but still managed to secure a 15-10 lead at the end of the first quarter with Shannon, back from a knee injury, scoring eight points in the period and Zorn scoring seven.
The Hawks, winners of 14 straight, opened the second quarter by scoring the first 15 points of the period to extend their lead to 30-10. Thomas drained a couple of 3-pointers to cap that stretch. Alvarado scored seven points over a 30-second span right before halftime that provided the Hawks a commanding 41-14 halftime lead.
The Hawks’ lead swelled to 40 points at the 6:19 mark of the fourth quarter (66-26), which triggered a running clock for the rest of the game.
The only thing that could be possibly disconcerting about Mission Oak is its collective mindset: Could the Hawks keep this type of focus before a possible showdown against No. 1 Independence on March 2 in Selland Arena?
“I’m extremely worried about being complacent,” Mission Oak coach Myron Epps said. “I’m concerned that we may be caught looking too far ahead. We cannot afford to do that. If we’re playing Roosevelt [on Friday], we’re playing a team that was within four to six points of us [in the second half]. If we didn’t get hot there at the end, that [Dec. 19 game] would have been a very interesting basketball game.”
No. 7 Bakersfield 66, No. 10 Tulare Union 43: Playing with a sprained ankle, Redskin senior Keonta Vernon stepped onto a high school basketball court for one final game.
The Wyoming-bound Vernon scored 19 points, but it was not enough as the Redskins were eliminated from the Central Section Division I playoffs by the Drillers in Bakersfield.
The Redskins trailed 8-6 after the first quarter, but Bakersfield outscored them 39-25 over the next two periods to take control of the game.
Jalen Love and Oscar Reyes each added six points, and Bailey Shaw scored five for the Redskins.
“We couldn’t get a break,” Tulare Union coach Mark Hatton said. “I’m very proud of my kids. We had a rough couple of weeks and just couldn’t get it together tonight.”
The Redskins finished the season with a 21-7 overall record.