After winning their first league title since 2012, the Santa Clara Bruins were hoping to play deep into CCS. Tuesday night’s quarter-final matchup pitted the No. 2 seed Bruins against the No. 7 seed Christopher Cougars.
Through the first two quarters it looked as if the Bruins were well on their way to a victory in their playoff opener. Santa Clara utilized an offensive attack powered by Jack Fukuda and Harry Nauci to build a 25-14 halftime lead. Unfortunately for the Bruins, their offense dried up in the third quarter, scoring just three points. The score going into the fourth quarter would be all tied up at 28-28. While Santa Clara’s offense managed 9 points in the fourth, it wasn’t enough as Christopher scored 15 to win by a final score of 43-37.
“All season I’ve been able to drive past my guy and either finish myself or drop it off to [Nauci],” remarked Fukuda on his team’s first half success. “In the second half they did a better job of staying with him and guarding me. So, either I had a contested shot or turned it over trying to pass to him. They definitely did a better job defensively in the second half.”
“They were way more active closing, they were really good,” acknowledged Bruins Head Coach Tony McGilvery on Christopher’s defensive effort in the second half. “You think ‘ok if they are inside and we hit the corner we would have a shot.’”
At one point in the second half Bruins’ sharpshooter Fredge Ramos looked wide open for a three-point shot, but the tall and long-armed Christopher defender closed fast and was able to block the shot.
“That’s what 5’6” vs 6’4” does,” admitted coach McGilvery on the two teams’ height discrepancy. “Their coach probably challenged them at half time, they weren’t passive, they were very aggressive.”
While it wasn’t the way the Bruins were hoping their season would end, both Fukuda and coach McGilvery were incredibly pleased with the season overall after a disappointing one last year.
“I had a really good time, this was way better than last year,” chuckled Fukuda. “Last year, we did not do very well, but we were good this year. I had a really good time and I’m going to miss my teammates.”
“Previously I haven’t had a team play this hard for the entire game ever in my 33-year career,” praised coach McGilvery on his squad. “Multiple coaches have used the word ‘relentless’ while talking about us. We don’t have a lot of size, but we have a lot of heart.”
One of the players in particular who showed a lot of heart this season was Dauntae Vivas. The senior wasn’t given the opportunity to score much within the Bruins’ offensive system, but Vivas was just as valuable as anyone else on the roster. Vivas was the primary defender on the opposing team’s ball handler on every possession.
“He’s our guy, on the ball, he’s our guy,” said coach McGilvery on his defensive star. “He’s good on the ball and he’s also really good on the weak side.”