By Jeremy Balan
Riding a hot shooter can often be the path to victory in basketball.
The problem with hot streaks, however, is that a cold streak can be just around the corner.
Riding the hot shooting touch of junior guard Ariel Gottlieb, the Jewish Community High School of the Bay’s boys basketball team was tied with St. Lawrence of Santa Clara at 35-35 early in the third quarter.
But Gottlieb went cold, missing his final 10 shots from the floor, as Jewish Community (13-5) fell to the Celtics 61-53 in the quarterfinal round of the Private School Athletic League playoffs on Tuesday at Alma Heights Academy in Pacifica.
Gottlieb had 18 first-half points and scored all nine of Jewish Community’s first quarter points. He finished with a game-high 23 points, but appeared to force shots late.
“Sometimes good players do that,” said Jewish Community Head Coach Tim Kjar. “He just tried to get it all back at once.”
The rest of the Wolves shot 33 percent from the floor and just 10 percent from three-point range.
“We took some poor shots at the end that hurt us,” Kjar said. “We wanted to get the ball inside more and needed to be a little more patient.”
Although the Wolves struggled shooting, they had more difficulty stopping St. Lawrence (12-11) senior forwards K.C. Carr and Brandan Carroll, who both finished with 20 points apiece while dominating on the offensive boards.
“We rebounded better in the second half,” said St. Lawrence Head Coach Jeff Klenow. “[Carr and Carroll] are getting better and they were getting rebounds and getting us second-chance opportunities.”
Carr was a steady post presence, consistently hitting step-back jumpers and back-door layups, while Carroll was an athletic spark, scoring most of his points on driving layups and putbacks off offensive rebounds. Carroll, who is listed at 6 feet 4 inches tall, highlighted his performance with an acrobatic dunk at the end of the second quarter.
While Carroll and Carr often scored at will, the game was close throughout, featuring 11 lead changes. Jewish Community even had the lead cut to 54-53 with 2:01 remaining in the fourth quarter, but St. Lawrence scored the final seven points by hitting key free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.
Even in defeat, Kjar is optimistic about the future.
“We had a pretty good year,” Kjar said. “We have everyone coming back next season, except for [senior forward Dore Dorzia]. We’re going to be pretty good if we can stay healthy.”