Capital Christian shows champion form
Lindhurst High needed a win over visiting Capital Christian in its Golden Empire League finale Friday night or a Marysville loss to qualify for the Sac-Joaquin Section Div. III playoffs.
The Blazers didn't qualify based on the first scenario after a 68-48 loss to the GEL champion Cougars. However, Marysville's 78-68 loss to San Juan will ensure Lindhurst a spot in the postseason.
The Blazers (15-10, 8-4) will likely draw the No. 16 seed and travel to top-seeded St. Mary's, according to section power ratings.
Lindhurst will have to forget the regular-season ending rout and a 26 percent shooting night if it hopes for a first-round upset in the postseason.
“It shows progress. At this point I just wanted to get in because we've had a good season and playoffs are a reward for a good season,” Lindhurst coach Bob Jensen said. “Tonight, we just didn't play very well and Capital is obviously really athletic and really good. We got some pretty good looks and against Capital, around the basket you're going to have to deal with the 6-10 guy, so you've got to make shots and we didn't.”
That 6-foot-10 guy is sophomore center Matt Simpkins. He scored 26 points, cleared 13 rebounds, recorded three steals and blocked two shots.
He threw down five effortless dunks, one a spectacular breakaway tomahawk jam, and converted three second-chance buckets.
Lindhurst's Troy Bowens did his best to contain Simpkins and got a little satisfaction on the offensive end by scoring 23 points - 16 in the second half - and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Despite the Blazers' best efforts, the Cougars were too strong in transition, scoring 20 points on fastbreak layups or dunks.
“I thought in the second half we did a much better job of executing and not giving them stuff
in transition,” Jensen said. “That's where the game got away from us. I thought we did a really good job of defending them in the half court. But it's all those things that they got in transition that just make it really hard to guard and stay in the game against a team like that.”
Lindhurst didn't help its cause with 23 turnovers, 14 of those coming from Capital Christian steals.
“They were able to put a lot of pressure and make it really hard for us,” Jensen said. “In the first half, we didn't respond very well, the second half, we did much better and we were right on the verge of making it at least interesting, but we had a few pretty good shots that didn't go in. When you're trying to come back, you need those those shots to come down.”
Lindhurst battled back from a 16-9 first-quarter deficit to cut Capital's lead to 16-14 with 7:12 remaining in the second period. But the Cougars used a 17-3 run over the next three minutes to jump ahead 33-17.
The Blazers' shooting woes grew larger in a difficult third period. Lindhurst hit just 3-of-23 shots and fell behind 47-31 heading into the final quarter.
Bowens scored seven of 12 points in the third, including 5-of-6 free throws.
Lindhurst's Robbie Brown added 10 points and three steals.
Capital Christian's Joel Pelton and Garth added 10 points each.
Appeal-Democrat reporter Justin Miller can be reached at 749-4796. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org