CIF boys basketball: Windsor faces big challenge at Mitty


When you make it to the CIF State Basketball Championships, every game is a challenge.

Then again, hardships can be graphed along a wide scale. Solving the morning Sudoku is a challenge. So is swimming the English Channel.

Where would playing a team like Archbishop Mitty fall? Get your goggles on, Windsor.

Fresh off a stirring 57-49 victory over McNair of Stockton in a CIF first-round game, the Jaguars boys now get a crack at one of the state’s elite programs tonight. Mitty, a Catholic school in San Jose, has won the Central Coast Section title four of the past five years, and this may be the Monarchs’ best team yet. They are currently 27-3, ranked third in California among teams of all sizes, and 15th in the entire nation.

Leading the way for Mitty is Aaron Gordon, a muscular 6-foot-8 junior who has official offers from at least three Pac-12 schools. His older brother, Drew Gordon, was a first-team All-Mountain West player at New Mexico this year; Aaron might be better.

And Gordon isn’t a one-man team. The Monarchs have a 6-6 inside/outside scorer in Thomas Peters, a 6-5 sharpshooter in Neil Vranicar and a mistake-free point guard in Jack Biebel.

Despite all that, Windsor has no plans to forfeit.

“We expect to win,” Jaguars coach Steve Kramer said. “Our kids know the hype. Some of them knew more about Mitty than I did. … We have to make sure the kids believe that if they play well, they have a chance to win.”

Certainly, the Jaguars have reason to feel good about themselves. Extending the best boys basketball season in school history, just a few months after the best football season in school history, they’ll take a 27-5 mark to Mitty.

“We’re a confident group,” Kramer said. “Tanner’s one of the best players in Northern California. And he had a great game last game. A lot of our other guys played on the football team, went 14-0, won a section championship. They’re confident athletes. They’ve been in big games before.”

Tanner would be Tanner Giddings, Windsor’s versatile 6-10 center. Giddings not only leads the Jaguars in scoring and rebounding. He takes the ball out of bounds and even dribbles upcourt if the opponent is double-teaming point guard Christian McAlvain.

One key for Windsor is keeping Giddings out of foul trouble.

“He’s a hard guy to defend,” Kramer said of Gordon. “If you want to contain him, you have to waste a few fouls. But we have to make sure Tanner stays on the court. We don’t function too well without him.”

Kramer said athletic 6-8 forward Kameron Richardson also would have to get involved in guarding Gordon. The Jaguars would love to limit the big man’s impact and force the Mitty shooters to take over the game.

Kramer’s team will have a shootaround in Windsor this morning, then take a chartered bus to San Jose, arriving early enough to eat lunch and walk it off.

The Mitty gym is a tough place to play, with a seemingly infinite array of championship pennants hanging from the rafters and a raucous student section known as The Pit.

With a CIF girls game preceding the boys, Kramer is encouraging Windsor fans to get there early enough to find good seats.
“You want to hear some applause when the team is introduced,” he said.

The Jaguars would love to hear some applause when the game ends, too. And if they can pull off this upset, they’ll probably have another ovation waiting when they get back to Windsor.

You can reach Staff Writer Phil Barber at 521-5263 or