CIF State Championships: Windsor passes pressure test

By MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

WINDSOR — “Compete” was the watchword in Windsor’s first boys’ basketball state playoff and the Jaguars held down a game McNair team Wednesday, earning a quarterfinal contest with mighty Mitty.

Cutting through pressure better than they had in section playoff games, the Jaguars built a large advantage and kept the Eagles from flying into the lead with sturdy defense and improved rebounding for the 57-49 win.

“It was a big test to see how well we can compete. I think we can go as far as we want,” said Tanner Giddings, who scored 20 points and was pivotal in beating the McNair press.

With strong passing and screening in the halfcourt and a fast break more than equal to McNair’s speed, Windsor pushed out to double-digit leads in the second and third periods. McNair closed to within a score after grinding away around the basket on both ends despite a decided height disadvantage.

“Our kids played their hearts out on the defensive end,” said McNair coach Matthew Morelli. “But Windsor shoots well and moves the ball well. They’re well-coached, smart basketball players.”

Windsor’s experience — the Jaguars returned five starters this season — will be tested Saturday at Mitty. The Monarchs are top seed in the NorCal Division 2 playoffs and ranked 12th in the nation, according to MaxPreps.

“I know they’ll compete as hard as they can. It’s fun to keep playing,” said Windsor coach Steve Kramer.

Best when getting balanced scoring, Windsor showed its strength outside and inside in stringing together runs on offense.
Scoring early and late in the first half, sharpshooter Casey Myers used screens to hit a trio of 3-pointers and lead Windsor the first two periods. Myers finished with 19 points on the night.

Adding 6 points in the half was Christian McAlvain, all on fast breaks including one following his own steal.

What kept the visitors from Lodi close was determined rebounding, giving McNair an advantage on second chance scoring opportunities.

Fast and strong Eagles’ guard Thomas Wallace pulled down 13 rebounds — second to Giddings’ 16 — and drove the ball to draw fouls and shoot free throws. Wallace shared game-high scoring honors with Giddings.

Yet while Wallace shot well enough from the line, better free-throw shooting overall would have pulled McNair closer. The Eagles made 9 of 20 compared with Windsor going 7 for 11, most coming late to stay ahead.

Earlier in the second half, Giddings did the most to restore Windsor’s double-digit lead and keep the Jaguars ahead. Giddings scored 15 of his points in the final two periods.

“We had a little talk at halftime,” Kramer said. “He did a great job.”
Unselfish in passing out to shooters, Giddings acknowledged he needed to look for shots and be more active inside.

“I needed to pick it up,” he said.

A dunk off a back-door cut by Giddings was followed by Wallace’s personal 7-point scoring run. A free throw pulled McNair within two points before Windsor sealed the win with free throws.

Passing another test in a memorable season, Windsor now is among the top eight NorCal Division 2 teams.

“We had to work for it,” Giddings said. “We felt this was out there.”