The Westmoor at El Camino boys' basketball game Tuesday night in South San Francisco was billed as a big showdown in the Peninsula Athletic League's North Division.
It turned into a big blowout. After a close first quarter, El Camino put its foot on the gas and pulled away from the Rams over the final three quarters, recording a 71-51 win.
"It was a real pride and respect game,” said El Camino forward Michael Smith, who finished with a game-high 28 points to go along with 10 rebounds. "We had to show we're on top.”
Colts' coach Archie Junio said he was more concerned about how his team finished. El Camino (2-0 PAL North, 11-4 overall) started strong and finished strong — with D.J. Idolyantes punctuating the win by draining a 3-pointer as the final horn sounded.
"I call it a big game because we want to make sure we can finish games,” Junio said. "Against S.I., we didn't finish. Against San Leandro, we didn't finish. Against Bellarmine, we didn't finish.”
Tuesday, the Colts were almost assured of finishing strong, thanks in large part to their fast start. Neither team was especially sharp in the opening minutes and with 3:43 left in the first quarter, the Colts held a 7-2 lead. By the time the quarter ended, El Camino enjoyed a 16-10 advantage and Westmoor (1-2, 12-3) was still in the game.
"We all came out with some nerves, especially since [this game] was one of our first home games,” Smith said.
While the Colts got hot in the second quarter, the Rams' shooting woes that plagued them in the first quarter carried over for the rest of the game. Westmoor shot just 25 percent from the field in the first half, hitting just seven of 28 shots. The Rams finished the game shooting just 29 percent, on 17 for 59 shooting from the field.
"[The Rams] couldn't buy a shot and at one point, they couldn't handle the press and that's when we built our lead,” Junio said.
That came in the second quarter. A John Mayuga 3-pointer cut the Colts lead to 22-18 with 3:35 left in the first half, but the Colts defense fueled a 14-2 run to end the half with El Camino holding a 36-20 lead at halftime.
El Camino point guard Elijah White was virtually unstoppable in the first 16 minutes as he scored 14 of his 26 points. He made only three shots from the field, but his aggressive drives to the hoops put him on the free-throw line, where he made 8 of 10.
In the second half, Smith took over, scoring 15 of his 28 in just 14 minutes as he and White were finally lifted from the game with 2:23 left in the game and the Colts holding a commanding lead.
"Coming out in the second half, I tried to get to the rim, all within the offense,” Smith said.
Westmoor, meanwhile, just could not find a rhythm offensively. Errol Fernandez was held to just eight points and Mayuga to just seven. Wai Min led the Rams with 20 points and 15 rebounds, while Alton Chen chipped in with 13.
"The game plan was to keep them away from the rim. Our game plan was to let them shoot the mid-range jumpers,” Junio said. "I think we kept them out of the paint for the most part.”
Smith said he could feel some sympathy for the Rams, considering he knows a lot of their players and has played with them during the summer club season.
"I know them on a personal basis,” Smith said. "We know how they feel (after a disappointing loss). They're really good basketball players.”
Smith also said, however, that his team was looking to make a statement.
"There's been a lot of [people] who said we wouldn't get as far as we did last year,” Smith said. The Colts won the PAL regular-season and tournament championship and advanced to the Central Coast Section Division III title game.
"We might not have the most talent, but we have the grittiness.”
Due to a problem with the Burlingame gym, tomorrow night's Aragon-Burlingame basketball matchup will be played as a quad at Aragon. The Aragon and Burlingame varsity girls game will tip off at 6:15 p.m., with the boys' varsity game scheduled for 7:45 p.m. The girls' frosh-soph teams will start the day at 3:15 p.m., followed by the frosh-soph boys at 4:45 p.m.