Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hoop (game delays Ian's sleepy) Dreams

Ian likes cheerleaders, like every other red-blooded American boy.

On Friday night we had a bit of a child care issue. Claire had a book club meeting (they read John Patrick Shaley's play "Doubt") while I had to cover a game for the San Mateo County Times. Figuring the boy needed to be exposed to some testosterone, I took him to the basketball game at nearby El Camino High School.

Ian's often a little bit wary around crowds and since El Camino was playing cross-town rival South San Francisco High, the place was packed, with the noise spilling out in the parking lot. I thought there'd be a problem.

But no, there was plenty of action, an iPhone and cheerleaders (which Ian enjoyed watching dance) to keep him interested. He even got a kick out of talking to the players after the game during my interviews (we went to a Giants game once and Ian was disappointed we couldn't talk to the players afterward as we do after a game I cover). Ian had fun, although the boy was exhausted and fell asleep within minutes upon getting home.

The story I wrote for the Times is reprinted below, although the editor cut a lot from the end for space reasons (and trimmed my lede, which compared the atmosphere to such epic inter-city derbies as White Sox/Cubs and Liverpool/Everton).
El Camino tops South City in boys basketball rivalry contest
By John Baker
San Mateo County Times correspondent

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — Like many good rivalries, El Camino and South San Francisco high schools bring out the crowds and the best in the teams playing.

Friday night's boys basketball matchup at El Camino was no exception. The gym was packed, the noise reverberated out into the parking lot and the teams played at their best.

Or at least one of them did.

Rising power El Camino, buoyed by a raucous cheering section, put on a defensive masterpiece, holding its rival to just three points in the first quarter en route to a 57-31 Peninsula Athletic League North Division win.

"Our student section was fantastic, the stands were packed, it was a great high school basketball atmosphere," Colts coach Anthony Khoo said. "I was proud to see that happen in South San Francisco, which isn't necessarily known as being a hotbed for basketball. It's probably the best, least-known rivalry."

The pace was set early as the visiting Warriors made just 1 of 12 first-quarter shots thanks mainly to a Colts defense that almost completely shut down passing lanes and limited shots from the paint. In total, the Warriors made barely a quarter of their shots Friday.

"We're not going to beat anybody shooting 28 percent, especially a good team like El Camino," South City coach Jorge Chevez said. "We're not a big team, we depend on getting a few shots here and there. When we don't knock them down, we can defend all we want, but it's not going to be our night."

El Camino (15-5, 4-0 PAL North) kept up the pressure and took a 29-10 lead into the halftime break.

"We didn't worry about the offense, just the defense," El Camino guard Jorsen Baysac said. "We let the defense pull us along; that's El Camino basketball."

South City (9-9, 2-2) readjusted its game in the second half, scoring better and finding a few more shots. But the Colts turned up their own offense, driving toward the basket, scoring 16 points in the paint.

"As a program we're kind of growing and getting into some uncharted territory," Khoo said. "We're trying to mimic patterns in successful public school programs like Burlingame and (Menlo-Atherton). They've really focused on defense. We're trying to take a page out of their success story."

Anthony Smith led the El Camino run with a game-high 17 points.
Friday night lights, indoor version.

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