By RICHARD J. MARCUS
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
SEBASTOPOL — The Analy boys basketball team did everything right in Tuesday night’s opening round North Coast Section Division 3 playoff game against Hercules, a team that beat them soundly in the Tigers’ own gym in late November.
Sixth-seeded Analy (22-7) outhustled, outmuscled, and out-tussled the listless No. 11-seed Titans (17-11) en route to an overwhelming 75-41 victory. Analy moves on to the second round of the NCS playoffs to face third-seeded El Cerrito on Friday night. Coincidentally, El Cerrito was the school that knocked the Tigers football team out of the NCS playoffs in the fall. The El Cerrito basketball squad was in the stands Tuesday to scout the Tigers.
“El Cerrito is good. They aren’t tall and they don’t shoot really well but they are athletic,” Analy coach Brett Page said. “I think it is going to be a dunkfest on Friday night. They are going to be dunking and we are going to be dunking — it will be the last man standing.”
Against Hercules it wasn’t much of a contest, with zero suspense after the opening minutes as to which team would win. The game was tied 5-5 with barely over three minutes elapsed when Analy went on a 20-2 run over the next six minutes to take a 25-7 lead with 6:34 to play in the second quarter.
The Tigers’ lead only got bigger as the game progressed as it appeared that the Titans raised the white flag and called it an early night before halftime. Hercules players hung their heads going into the locker-room at the break and barely hustled on defense on many of Analy’s second-half possessions.
“Once we got up seven and then 10 points it seemed that the Hercules players kind of just shrugged their shoulders,” Page said. “They didn’t even press us when they were down.”
Leading 43-16 at halftime, Analy extended its lead to 53-21 with 4:19 to play in the third quarter and Hercules had neither the firepower nor the will to mount any semblance of a comeback.
This clearly wasn’t the same Hercules team that defeated Analy 71-50 in the second game of the season.
“Our kids didn’t come into the game with the right mindset. I think they took Analy for granted,” Hercules coach Drew Evans said. “We just didn’t match Analy’s intensity tonight. All the credit goes to them (Analy).”
The Tigers were also a different team Tuesday night from the first meeting with the Titans, when Analy had not yet jelled as a team.
“At the start of the year we were trying to put our team together when we played them (Hercules),” Page said. “We get better every season at the end of the year.”
Page said he switched from the Tigers’ normal man-to-man defense to zone, forcing Hercules to beat the Tigers with outside shooting, which they were unable to do. In fact, Hercules only shot 30 percent (17-for-56) from the floor and was off on its long-distance jumpers. With no outside game and an inside game muted due to the defense from the taller Analy squad, Hercules had a tough time scoring. The Titans’ leading scorer, Archy Ronquillo, had only eight points.
“We weren’t shooting the ball well,” Evans said. “We were cold tonight.”
Analy, on the other hand, had all cylinders working on offense. The Tigers shot 62 percent from the floor and had four players in double figures in scoring: Geddy Dukes (16 points), Gabe Greenberg-Pines (13), Mohannad Halaweh (12), and Josiah Sorensen (12). Not only did Dukes lead all scorers but he also was tops in blocks (eight) and rebounds (15).
“Dukes was really good tonight,” Page said. “We were really disciplined tonight. It was our best game of the year. Tonight we did everything we wanted to as far as following our game plan.”
Other areas of the game dominated by the Tigers include rebounds (31-18 Analy advantage) and turnovers (10 committed in the first half by Hercules compared to one for Analy).
“I feel really good where we are at right now as a team,” Page said.
Page said he would use a combination of man defense and zone to try and slow down the run-and-gun El Cerrito squad.
“If Analy plays El Cerrito the way they played us tonight, Analy will be a hard team to beat,” Evans said.