Fremont center Abel Seno and point guard Omri Sokol bumped chests after the buzzer sounded off. They celebrated the Fremont Firebirds of Sunnyvale’s hard fought 41-37 first league against the Santa Clara Bruins on Friday night.
Seno was aggressive all game long, snatching rebounds from the towering centers of the Bruins, scoring in the paint, blocking shots, hustling and playing with solid energy that seemed to give the Firebirds a boost.
What was the reason Seno played with so much energy, especially with two giants manning the middle for the Bruins?
“I have to bring my energy up every game to get rebounds,” Seno said. “I have to get rebounds to get extra possessions for my team.”
Fremont coach Tony Kikuta echoed his starting center’s sentiments and elaborated on the play of his big man.
“I thought Abel played fantastic. His effort was very, very high,” coach Kikuta said of his starting big man. “He’s someone … didn’t make the frosh/soph team as a ninth grader. He came out again, worked hard, continued to get better and, now, he’s a starter on varsity.”
Seno was in the middle of everything helping the home team overcome some of those mistakes with some buckets in the post and a couple of blocks, one which led to a transition layup by senior guard RC Estrada.
The Firebirds would end up going into halftime up 24-15 with a little bit of momentum after junior Richen Ocray got a putback layup off the miss from Yuval Danino at the buzzer.
In the second half, the Bruins implemented a full-court press. Fremont started making lazy passes, which led to steals on the other end for the Bruins for buckets or fouls. The pressure allowed the Bruins to get back into the game, down just 29-24 heading into the final stanza.
The final frame included a couple of turnovers by the Firebirds, a long Tom Brady-esque throw from Sokol to a streaking Danino for a layup.
Bruins center Nathan Burns tied the game at 35 on an interior shot. Burns would go on to finish with 11 points, along with Shinya Sargent.
After that, Fremont answered with a bucket of their own and Danino made it a four-point lead with a tough baseline jumper. With the Bruins answering with a bucket, Scedrick Tippins made a driving layup at the shot clock buzzer with eight seconds left in the game, completing the scoring for the game.
Fittingly, Seno got a steal at the end of the game, capping off a high-energy game, finishing with five points and three blocks.
The Firebirds play the Bruins one more time in league. What can coach Kikuta expect to see in that next meeting?
“I think they have a lot of weapons on their team,” said coach Kikuta. “They have some shooters, some size and, when you couple that with good coaching, I know the next game is really going to be a challenge, especially because we play at Santa Clara.”