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Rose City basketball: Windsor fades away in final period

By MICHAELCOIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Neither as tall nor talented as last year’s state playoff team, Windsor must be tough to contend this boys’ prep basketball season.

Showing flashes of grit and determination Thursday, Windsor couldn’t score consistently in a 47-40 loss to San Marin. The opener of the Rose City tournament, hosted by Cardinal Newman, provided another test for a team returning only one starter from a year ago.

“We can’t play in spurts. We have to play hard the whole game. They played harder than us,” said leading scorer Casey Myers, the one starter back from last season’s Jaguars section runner-up squad.

San Marin by contrast has four returning starters from last year’s section playoff team. The maturity showed in the Mustangs not being rattled by erratic offense and digging deep with defense and rebounding.

“They really kind of stopped what we wanted to do. We just kept with it,” said San Marin leading scorer Noah Everly.

A sluggish start on both sides was not surprising given the after-school start time.

After scratching for an early lead, mostly at the free throw line, Windsor fell behind following a San Marin 10-0 run to close the first quarter. The Mustangs were best on the fast break, fueled by steals and sharp passing.

Another scoring spurt with Everly and Manny Wilkins finishing strong around the basket had San Marin primed to break open the contest. But the Jaguars tightened their defensive transition and found gaps on the other end including a basket from tireless defender Adam Garcia to keep the game close through two quarters.

“We need toughness, mental and physical. We’re showing it in flashes,” said Windsor coach Travis Taylor.

Taller and quicker, San Marin still couldn’t break free of Windsor’s ball control game.

“They controlled the entire tempo of the game,” said San Marin coach Craig Piti. “We defended pretty well. It was good enough to win.”

First the Mustangs had to overcome Windsor’s best stretch. Trailing by nine points midway through the third quarter, the Jaguars closed on a 10-0 run.

The spark was freshman forward Curtis Johnson. A slasher, Johnson drew fouls on a pair of drives that produced four free throws sandwiched around a scoring jump shot. One of Johnson’s flights to the basket drew a technical on San Marin with Myers hitting the free throws to give Windsor a one-point lead.

Myers, a sharpshooter, opened Windsor’s fourth quarter with a 3-pointer.

The lead changed three times in the final period, the last when Everly, who scored 18, pulled up at the edge of the key for a jumper to start a run Windsor couldn’t match. Offensive rebounding, notably off San Marin free throws, made a big difference.

“That’s one of my favorite things, to crash the boards,” Everly said. “It’s another opportunity to score.”

Better ball movement helped Windsor stay close. Myers closed out the Jaguars scoring with another deep shot, totaling 16 points in the contest.

“We have a lot of new guys,” Myers said. “I just want to be the best guy on the court and finish for my team.”