When Rob Hanmer left Cathedral City High School for Rancho Mirage in 2013, he did so because of the opportunity to start something from scratch. The new high school just a few blocks away provided that opportunity.
Rancho Mirage High School coach Rob Hanmer pumps his fists and yells in excitement on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 as his team extends their lead during the second half of the Rattlers’ boys basketball playoff game against the Banning Broncos. The game marks the first boys basketball playoff game in school history. Rancho Mirage won, 81-56, and advance to the next round of post season play.
Less than two years later, the move appears to be working out as planned. In their first varsity season, the Rattlers claimed a share of the De Anza League regular-season title. And on Wednesday, in their first postseason game in school history, Hanmer’s squad captured a couple other firsts in the program’s history.
Rancho Mirage secured a 20-win season and earned its first postseason victory with an 81-56 runaway win over Banning in the first round of the CIF Southern Section playoffs.
“To get 20 wins is huge,” Hanmer siad. “It’s really hard. For this group to get this done tonight, I’m really proud of these guys.”
Sophomore guard Charles Neal led the way with 17 points, nine rebounds and six assists for the Rattlers, who used a 27-point second quarter to overcome an early deficit in front of a home crowd of more than 200.
Hanmer was without junior Daryn Evans, who suffered an ankle injury in the regular-season finale. Evans is averaging 18 points per game.
“It was really nice to see other people step up tonight,” Hanmer said. “Starting three freshmen will give you gray hair, but I thought we really stepped up. Obviously, Charles I believe is the MVP of our league and he’s a great leader and he led us tonight.”
The Rattlers (20-8) fell behind early in the first, then outscored Banning 27-18 in the second quarter before pulling away in the second half. Banning’s 6-foot-6 center Jalen January had 14 points and 11 rebounds at the half, but Rancho Mirage forward Tyrell Robinson largely held him in check for the third quarter and January sat for much of the fourth with the game no longer in doubt.
With the win, Rancho Mirage will play Friday at Harvard Westlake in the second round of the CIF tournament.
“We’ve got four more games,” Neal said. “We’re just hoping we can play as well as we did tonight. We always had it in our mindset that we could do this. Coach always believed in us and is always pushing us to get better, so we have a lot of confidence right now.”
In the first year of the program and with everybody coming back, Hanmer realizes he’s playing with house money at this point. Still, he plans to head on the road Friday and see if he can’t continue this first-year ride.
“This is a very talented tournament with a lot of really good private schools,” Hanmer said. “So we’re just going to take it one game at a time and see what happens.”
Tyrell Robinson: The junior guard not only checked Banning’s best player, he contributed in a variety of ways on offense and defense. He scored a team-high 17 points on just nine shots, made a pair of 3-pointers, and finished with eight rebounds and five assists.
RANCHO MIRAGE 81, BANNING 56
RANCHO MIRAGE (81)
(FG-FGA FT-FTA TP) Neal 8-21 0-0 17, Tyrell Robinson 5-9 5-9 17, Talley 6-12 1-2 13, Alvarez 2-7 0-0 6, Guillen 5-6 1-2 12, Casavant 2-2 0-0 4, Webster 3-6 0-0 6, Harris 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 33-65 9-15 81.
(FG-FGA FT-FTA TP) Walton 2-10 1-3 6, Boxley 4-12 0-2 9, Mendoza 2-9 1-3 5, January 8-15 1-2 19, Pete 1-4 2-2 4, Bailey 4-13 0-0 8, Miranda 1-5 1-1 3, Medrano 1-1 0-0 2, Shorter 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 23-71 8-15 56.
3-Point Goals — Rancho Mirage – 6-16 (Tyrell Robinson 2, Neal 1, Alvarez 2, Guillen 1), Banning – 4-13 (January 2, Walton 1, Boxley 1)