PINOLE — The North Coast Section’s Division II men’s basketball quarterfinals on Saturday were a contrast of styles.
American Canyon High loves running, shooting and 3 point shooting. Salesian High can also shoot 3-pointers, but play more methodically and efficiently in a half-court set.
Unfortunately for Wolves, the Pride style was more successful in the 64-48 playoff game at Pinole High. The Salesian No. 2 will host No. 6 Benicia on Wednesday in the section semi-final, also in Pinole.
American Canyon (20-7), seeded No. 7, was apparently one step behind the Salesian No. 2 (11-8) all evening. Every time the wolves came close, pride had an answer.
“We are counting on this jump shot. We usually hit 12 to 14 a game,” American Canyon head coach Scott Hayburn said. “It has a lot to do with (the Salesian). They didn’t give us open shots. They made a few mistakes in their defensive assist, which we took advantage of and hit a couple of them. But I felt like (the Salesian) corrected that after seeing what we were trying to do. When the other team is that kind of tall and long, it’s hard for us to look clean. We have to work much, much harder.
Wolves looked set for a potential fourth quarter comeback win. Senior Khai Curry made a lay-up late in the third period to cut the lead to 39-35, but Salesian Alvin Loving made a 3-pointer for the last bucket of the quarter. Still, Pride’s lead was only 42-35.
Salesian’s defense tightened in the fourth quarter and Amani Johnson, Evin Goodwin and Austin Johnson all made shots to extend the lead to 48-35, forcing Hayburn to call a timeout. Wolves closed down eight points at 51-43 with 2:44 left after a steal and a quick bucket from Parmigiani, but American Canyon wouldn’t come close.
Senior Jordan Nolan led Wolves with 15 points and Parmigiani had 13 more.
Nolan acknowledged that his team sometimes gets more strokes in the paint.
“We’re an aggressive team, so if the layups are open, we’ll take them too,” he said.
The Salesian overtook American Canyon 23-10 in the first half and 45-20 for the contest. Pride had five offensive rebounds and converted five to second-half points in the first half.
“We bounced back pretty badly,” Salesian head coach Bill Mellis said. “It was a priority. This has been a priority in practice. We talked about it. We usually have a real center but this team needs to scrape to get some rebounds. If we don’t fight on the boards, then things don’t work out for us.
Salesian led 9-3 at the exit but American Canyon fought back with a jumper Raekwon Bell starting a 9-3 push. Parmigiani hit a jumper to end the run as Wolves went close at 13-12 with 13 seconds left. Salesian Emerson Jones’ 6ft 5in post converted his back kick and free kick with 0.2 seconds left to extend the lead to 16-12.
Salesien led 31-17 at the end of the first half but CJ Mitchell had two free throws, Parmigiani made a 3-pointer and Nolan hit his shot down the hall to cut the lead to 31-24 heading for the cloakrooms.
Unfortunately for American Canyon, Wolves were never able to equalize or take the lead in the second half.
It was a tough night for Wolves star Mikey Pierce, who was held to three points at half-time and just eight overall. The Salesian traded defenders for him all evening and kept his hands on his face.
“It’s hard to be Mikey because everyone knows Mikey, so they don’t give him a lot of space,” Hayburn said. “He’s a very, very selfless player, sometimes mistakenly. I thought he might have taken some open looks early on, but when you get the kind of attention he does…. That’s part of what has led to our success. It opens things up for other players.
Loving finished with 15 points, Sanders had 13 and Amani Johnson added 12 for the Salesian.
Going into the game, American Canyon had won 15 of 16 games. Wolves won their first-ever playoff game three days earlier with a home win against Cardinal Newman.
When asked if the team exceeded expectations, Hayburn said: “It’s hard to say because we knew we had a very talented team. We knew we had a disciplined team and we knew we had a smart team. We knew we had a close-knit team. We knew we had all the ingredients to have a special season. … We started the year 5-5 and this start made us realize that we are not entitled to a good season.