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BASKETBALL TEAMS GEAR UP FOR PLAYOFFS

ALEX BANNING

WEB EDITOR

   Pinewood’s long awaited postseason for basketball is starting in just a couple of days, and both the boys and girls basketball teams have challenges in front of them when going into CCS, including injured players, formidable teams, and unfamiliar divisions.

   The girls team, coming off a state championship victory last year, are undefeated in league with a record of 12-0 and an overall record of 22-2 to end the season. They are posed to play to seventh-seed team Valley Christian at Christopher High School this Friday. Freshman post player Stella Kailahi hopes that the team will remain mentally sharp.

   “Basketball is more of a mental game than it is a physical game. The thing I am worried about is mentally getting out of the game, and not being able to pull through,” Kailahi said.

   During the bracketing process, the team secured a second-seed position with only their number one rival St. Ignatius above them. The girls are optimistic about their chances at CCS.

   “I think we can do it if we work hard and follow our defensive principles, and we do what we’ve been working on in practice, I think we can go all the way,” sophomore guard Akayla
Hackson said.

   The team is also worried about moving up to a new division.

   “I think its going to be really big for us, and I know the competition in Open is going to be a whole new level. We gotta step up our game and were got to expect to play against top notch players,” senior Gabi Bade said.

   If both Pinewood and St. Ignatius continue to win in CCS, they will be matched up against each other at the finals on March 6 at Santa Clara University.

   The boys team, led by head coach Mani Messy, has also had a similarly successful season, finishing the league with an impressive record of 10-4 (second place in league) and ending the season with an overall record of 16-8. Due to a first round bye, they are set to play their first CCS game at Alma Heights High School this Saturday, against a team to be decided on later in the tournament. The boys team attributes much of its success to juniors guard Kyle Murphy and post Ryan Knotts.

   “Kyle has really stepped up as of late and has been shooting really well. Ryan Knotts has become a bigger post presence for the team and enjoys banging it around down there,” sophomore post Matt Peery said.

   The boys team was able to obtain a first-seed position in the bracketing process, while their rivals Woodside Priory gained a fourth seed position. However, being a four-time consecutive CCS champion brings some worries to the team.

   “We know that since we are the reigning champs for the last four years, we have a huge bullseye on the back of our jerseys. We’re going to get every team’s best game; one slip up, and our season is over,” junior guard Nathan
Beak said.

   If both Pinewood and Priory win their first game, they will face off on March 4 at Santa Clara High School; the finals will be on March 6 at Notre Dame de
Namur University.

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