The weakness of the Westmoor boys’ basketball team is also its greatest strength. What the Rams lack in size, they more than make up with intensity, hard play and a 100 miles per hour pace.
Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Westmoor's Errol Fernandez drives to the basket in the Rams' win over
host Hillsdale Thursday night. Fernandez finished with 17 points.
All were on display Thursday night as the Rams went to San Mateo and took down Hillsdale 61-49.
"Because we’re not the biggest team in the world, we have to work that much harder. Any time we hit the floor, we have to work harder than everyone else does,” said Westmoor coach Herb Yaptinchay. "Mismatches can work both ways. For us, it’s the size (issue), but [the opposition] has to guard us, too. All five of our guys have to be able to play all five positions.”
That’s not quite true. Westmoor (10-1 overall) doesn’t have a center or even really forwards. What Yaptinchay puts on the court is five guards and all of them can handle the ball, penetrate, shoot, drive, run the floor and — yes — rebound. The Rams actually out-rebounded Hillsdale (7-4) 42-32.
Hillsdale coach Brett Stevenson said he purposely did not have his team attack the offensive glass because he did not want to get burned repeatedly by Westmoor’s transition game.
"We definitely didn’t hit the offensive glass as hard as we could, but I don’t want to give up easy layups (going the other way),” Stevenson said.
Not that the Knights completely shut down the Rams’ running game, which got their share of transition buckets. Hillsdale tried to play that way as well and while it worked at times, the Knights didn’t appear to look real comfortable doing so.
"We just didn’t knock down shots,” Stevenson said.
Credit Hillsdale, however. Every time Westmoor threatened to blow the Knights out of the gym, they responded. With the Rams holding a 5-4 lead early in the first quarter, Westmoor went on a 9-0 run to take a 14-4 advantage. Stevenson called a timeout and when the Knights came back on the floor, they finished the quarter with a 10-4 run cutting their deficit to 18-14 going into the second quarter.
Westmoor pushed the lead back to 10 on back-to-back dribble-drive penetrations from Errol Fernandez, but the Knights responded with back-to-back 3-pointers from Michael Ontonari and Angelo Bautista. By halftime, Westmoor was holding a 30-25 lead.
The Rams maintained its lead throughout the third quarter as every time the Knights made a run, Westmoor responded. Hillsdale cut the Rams’ lead to two points, 32-30, after Bautista hit 2 of 3 free throws, but Westmoor pushed its lead back to seven at the end of the third quarter.
Baustista tried to shoot the Knights back into the game, connecting on a pair of 3-pointers to cut the Rams lead to just one, 41-40, but over a three-minute period, the Rams pushed their lead back to 10, 55-45, with 3:08 to play. Westmoor then went 8 for 8 at the free throw line down the stretch to ice the game.
"It was one of those games where we battled to get ahead and they (Hillsdale) battled back,” Yaptinchay said.
Bautista led all scorers with 23 points, but was the only Knight to score in double figures. Westmoor was paced by Fernandez, who scored a team-high 17, and Wai Min who had 12.
But the Rams are proving they are more than just a two-man team. John Mayuga stepped up with 14 points, while Eric Liang knocked down a pair of 3s on his way to eight points.
"[Fernandez and Min] are huge. You look at our stats, they do the majority of our scoring and a majority of our rebounding. What makes us dangerous is our third and fourth guy. If it was just [Fernandez and Min], it would be easier to take them away,” Yaptinchay said. "[Mayuga and Liang], those are the guys that make us a dangerous team. Wai and Errol can put up big numbers, but John and Eric can as well.”