By Jeremy Balan
PACIFICA – The Jewish Community High School of the Bay boys basketball team knows exactly how Trinity Christian of Monterey feels.
The Wolves were in the same spot a year ago.
A year after making its first appearance in the Central Coast Section Division V playoffs last season, Jewish Community fell to Trinity 50-49 in the first round of the CCS playoffs on Tuesday at Alma Heights Christian Academy.
The win gives Trinity (17-3) its first win in the section tournament, also in its first appearance in school history.
“We had nothing to lose, because we’d never been here before,” said Trinity head coach Chris Hill.
That attitude was applied to the fourth quarter, when the Warriors were trailing 36-29.
Trinity began applying a full-court pressure defense to the Wolves (9-12) and the gamble paid off. The Warriors forced eight turnovers in the final quarter and pulled ahead for good at 43-42 on a 3-pointer from standout sophomore guard Dre Perez with 2:41 remaining.
“They changed defense, went to the full-court and we just couldn’t handle it,” said Jewish Community head coach Tim Kjar. “We tried different things to withstand the pressure, but we just couldn’t. That’s my fault too, because as a coach, I need to put our kids in better positions.”
Perez, who averaged just over 20 points per game in the regular season, scored 13 points in the fourth quarter to finish with a game-high 23.
“We were making a lot of mistakes, but we showed resiliency, which I have never seen in my boys,” Hill said. “I was worried we were going to fold – I really was. They stayed in it, stayed together and it worked.”
Perez woke up in the fourth quarter, but the reason for the Jewish Community lead heading into the final frame was its defense, which held the sophomore scoreless and Trinity to just four points in the third.
“We positioned our help-side defenders a little bit better [in the third quarter], but we stopped doing that in the fourth quarter for whatever reason,” Kjar said.
The Wolves had the ball down 49-46 with 16 seconds left, but could not convert on a pair of 3-pointers, and after a made free throw by Perez to put the game out of reach, Jewish Community senior guard Grant Fineman hit a final 3 at the buzzer.
Jewish Community junior guards Michael Kostukovsky and Anthony Gumberg each had a double-double with 18 and 13 points, respectively, and 10 rebounds apiece. The Wolves also outrebounded Trinity 35-22.
“The effort from all of the guys was great,” Kjar said. “It wasn’t about that. They just changed the defense on us and we couldn’t adjust to it.”
Dre Perez – 23
Ryan Swedberg – 11
Joshua Hill – 6
Vincent Giacomazzi – 5
Donald Taylor – 3
Michael Kostukovsky – 18
Anthony Gumberg – 13
Grant Fineman – 12
Arthur Guz – 3
Boris Shkurko – 3