Boys Basketball: De La Salle’s defense locks down Lincoln

Lincoln junior forward Davion Telfor tries to drive past a De La Salle defender on Tuesday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lincoln junior forward Davion Telfor tries to drive past a De La Salle defender on Tuesday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

Even after a dismal offensive first half against visiting De La Salle, the Lincoln boys basketball team had a glimmer of hope when it hit two consecutive baskets early in the third quarter to cut the Spartans’ lead to 28-15.

That hope was squashed quickly and soundly by the defending North Coast Section Division I champions, which went on a 10-0 run and never looked back in a 56-26 non-league win over the Mustangs on Tuesday.

Arizona-bound De La Salle senior shooting guard Elliot Pitts started the third-quarter run with a three-pointer from the left-hand corner, finished with a game-high 21 points on 7-of-12 shooting from the floor and was the only player on either team to score more than eight points.

“We came out a little careless and we had to get them going, then they refocused,” said De La Salle head coach Frank Allocco. “We’ll be really good when they start doing that on their own.”

Pitts’ smooth jump shot, along with several cutting layups, provided almost all of the offense for the Spartans (4-1), but the difference was ultimately their defense, which limited Lincoln (0-7) to its lowest point total since the 2005-06 season, when the Mustangs lost to De Anza of Richmond 83-25.

Lincoln junior center Seth Snoddy goes up for a contested shot in the lane against De La Salle on Tuesday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lincoln junior center Seth Snoddy goes up for a contested shot in the lane against De La Salle on Tuesday at Lincoln High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

The Mustangs appeared to come out over-anxious, rushing shots early in the game, then became tentative in the second half, mostly keeping the ball on the perimeter and settling for jump shots.

“Their help defense is great,” said Lincoln head coach Matt Jackson. “If you get anything in the key, there are two or three guys who are 6-5, 6-6 and strong. It’s a different level of basketball. We won’t see a team as physical as that all year.”

Lincoln shot just 26 percent from the floor and 0-for-10 from three-point range, while the Spartans were efficient and surgical in half-court sets, and shot 49 percent from the field.

If not for a buzzer-beating runner by Lincoln reserve guard Josh Lau at the end of regulation, the Mustangs would have went without a field goal in the fourth quarter. De La Salle also outrebounded Lincoln 42-15.

“We try to shut everybody out,” Allocco said. “It’s always been our trademark. We haven’t allowed over 40 [points] per game in years. That’s our focus and in any game we play, that’s our goal — we want to come out and defend.”

While the Mustangs struggled mightily to score in every quarter, the best pure athlete on the floor may have been wearing a Lincoln jersey.

Less than a month after leading the football team to an Academic Athletic Association championship as a hard-hitting linebacker and tight end, Davion Telfor is starting to have an impact on the basketball court.

The relatively undersized (6-foot-1), big-bodied junior scored six points and is still an unpolished offensive player, but is the Mustangs’ most versatile asset. He made an immediate impression against the Spartans with two highlight-reel blocks in the first quarter and went on to lead Lincoln with three steals.

“He’s getting to the places he needs to get to and he’s still a little rusty from football, but he’s getting shots at the basket,” Jackson said of Telfor. “When he figures out the touch, how athletic he is and how most guys won’t be able to jump with him, the shots he gets in the key will be a lot easier. He’s our most complete, all-around player.”

While a AAA team playing the East Bay athletic powerhouse may seem out of the ordinary, the teams have now played for five straight seasons, dating back to former Lincoln head coach Michael Gragnani’s tenure. He was a friend of Allocco, and their meeting in 2010 (a 41-38 De La Salle win) was one of the last games Gragnani coached. He died of a heart attack two weeks later.

“We’ve kept it alive because we want to honor Mike and we want to do anything to keep Mike alive,” Allocco said. “Usually we play at Kezar [Pavilion], but to walk in here and see Mike’s picture [at the gym’s entrance] really makes me feel good. That’s why this tradition has gone on.”

Scoring Leaders

De La Salle
Elliot Pitts – 21
Mac Hoffman – 8
Brian Rosselli – 7
Nikhil Peters – 5
Two players tied with 4 points

Lincoln
James Gurr – 7
Mitchell Lee – 6
Davion Telfor – 6
Seth Snoddy – 5
Josh Lau – 2

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18 Comments

  1. Don L. says:

    De La Salle also played Lowell (maybe 2006 / 2007) in the CIF NorCal Playoffs. Lowell gave De La Salle a good battle before falling. Lowell doesn’t get a lot of credit but they battled in the NorCals in Division 1 against the likes of De La Salle and Serra for a few years.

    • George Nguyen says:

      Aww snap! I remember that in HS when I younger at Kezar… Lowell had some really solid players

    • Matthew Snyder says:

      I used to work basketball camps with Matt Allen, who led the Cardinals on an improbable run to the City Section title, upsetting three favored teams along the way. Dude could ball. Lowell had a really good run for the next few seasons.

      • Don L. says:

        Interesting. I remember Matt Allen. His brother Sam played for International I believe. That Lowell team you refer to was the year they beat Burton in the AAA finals for their first title in 50+ years.

        Lowell was a section champion but only 17-14 or something overall and had to play an outbracket game. They were stuck with McClymonds from the OAL who was upset twice in the OAL finals. I don’t remember the guy’s name, but Mack had a recruit that went on to play at UCONN or something I think.

        I was at the Mack/Lowell game and had to laugh. On one hand, you had a very tall and athletic Mack team. On the other hand, you had a Lowell team who’s starting five who’s heigh averaged 5’10” or so.

        Mack won 71-31 or something though Lowell gave it a go early but Mack’s height and athleticism just took over.

        • Matthew Snyder says:

          That was Antonio Kellogg, right? I remember he had to transfer out of UConn after his freshman year for a couple of bad incidents — I think one involved an altercation with a police officer. Tremendous scorer, though.

          Vividly remember that Lowell-Burton game. Both Allen brothers were excellent players, and super-competitive. When we’d play pickup ball at the end of camp days, they made sure they were on the same team, so they wouldn’t get in fights. Haha.

          Sam was at International — think he started out at Lincoln, and then transferred. Just finished up at UCSC playing ball for a couple of years. Saw some fun articles about him. Great shooter, and pesky defender.

          When I worked with him in the summer of ’06, he came back from a week away at the Vegas AAU tournament in July with some pretty glowing reports about watching one Kevin Love. Pretty cool.

          • Don L. says:

            Yeah – I looked it up and it was indeed Antonio Kellogg.

            Side note about Lowell, I remember thinking the AAA must have fallen off when Lowell’s BASKETBALL and FOOTBALL programs were dominating. :D Nothing personal but Lowell is known as a academic school. They had good players but other schools were usually better. :)

            • SF Wrestling says:

              With the proper motivation, training, and coaching; there’s no reason a kid at an “academic” school can’t be every bit the athlete as a kid at a regular HS.

              • Don L. says:

                SF Wrestling,

                Point taken. I meant it in jest as Lowell has (and is still) the best public academic high school. The stereotype is that Lowell doesn’t have great athletes though the reality is that have quite a few. :)

        • GCJ 01 says:

          Don L.,

          Thanks for mentioning they beat Burton…that could’ve been left out!!!!! Lowell had a lucky game and we’ll leave it at that!

  2. wcalsf says:

    DeLaSalle/Coach Alloco are a class act and one of the best hs hoops coaches around.

  3. Don L. says:

    BTW – what do people think of Lincoln playing a “tough schedule”? They were competitive against SI but had a few double digit losses against other out of town teams. It’s great to play teams that a talented and tough, but a few wins would be nice to build confidence. It may be better to schedule teams that are around your level and compete.

    I used to think that playing better teams would be great for my CYO teams (when I was coaching). However, I had a “B” Level team (back when CYO was divided by “A” and “B”). I had my teams play some teams during their 6th, 7th and 8th grade years that were WAY OVER THEIR HEADS (mainly “A” teams). We got blasted by a St. Philip , Epiphany and one other team by a lot. We did give St. Cecilia (missing their best player) a run before losing in the last minute.

    When my team played teams at the “B” level, we did pretty well. :)

    • jbalan says:

      It didn’t make the article, but I asked coach Jackson essentially that question – whether it was a detriment to keep playing good teams and losing by large margins, and if it would hurt their confidence going forward.

      His view (and I’m paraphrasing), is that because games against the bottom half of the AAA ultimately are akin to scrimmages for the top AAA teams, it’s hard to get learning and coachable moments out of those games. That’s why he schedules tough, so he can have those coachable moments.

      On the same note, I think playing SI close was a boost to Lincoln’s confidence. Can’t say the De La Salle game helped at all in that respect.

      • Don L. says:

        Thanks for the note Jeremy. Coaches in the AAA have a tough job. If you’re a “middle tier team”, you are probably in the best position. You can expect to hang with the top teams and maybe pull off an upset or two. You “should win” against the lower tier teams but you’ll have to work for it.

        If you’re a top team, things get dicey when you play those “lower tier teams”. Tough to get motivated when you’re up by 30 at halftime.

        The lower tier teams struggled to stay motivated and field their teams when they are blown out and losing almost every game. It’s a brutal cycle in the AAA right now.

      • Ari Gold says:

        Thats a dead-on description of AAA top tier vs bottom tier. Scrimmages. And then when top tier AAA plays elite leagues or teams, thats a scrimmage also. When these matchups occur its flat out clear one team, although the effort may be there, doesnt belong on the floor with the other team. The same can be said about AAA football also. I sincerely hope you still enjoy covering “scrimmages”.

        • GCJ 01 says:

          Of course Ari Fools Gold couldn’t help but to rag on the AAA. Stick to concerning yourself with your beloved SHC and leave the AAA to those who have the right and the knowledge to talk about the league!

        • Don L. says:

          Ari – you’re an active participant here but why point out the obvious? I’m an AAA fan and I know Lincoln isn’t going to stand toe to toe with De La Salle.

          Why don’t you just give Lincoln credit for making an effort instead of saying “they don’t belong on the floor”.

          You know, SHC hardly burned up the football friend this year. SHC got a taste of being a bit out of it’s league this year with the many losses they suffered through. I’m not going to give the team and the coaches a hard time because I have no beef with SHC. I know plenty of people who have went there and been there many times to officiate.

          • GCJ 01 says:

            Don L.,

            Well said! But what more can you expect from someone who complains and criticizes his own school when his teams does poorly instead of finding something positive to say. But unlike you and I, who are actually there to help our schools, he just sits behind a computer screen and talks crap all day long for attention!

            All that money spent to attend a private school and all he learned was to talk crap and post falsified info on a high school sports website. Way to go! I’m glad I attended a public school!

            • Don L. says:

              I’m not too politically correct (just ask my co-workers) but let me try here. I think sometimes people who are “privileged” don’t quite understand when things don’t go their way. Plus, what they take for granted, they don’t understand that not everyone is like them.

              This is NOT meant to slam the private schools, the coaches, the kids or the alumni. But the point is that the privates have advantages in facilities (most of the time), coaching, participation among many other things.

              Folks who never step foot into a public school will never understand how it is to go to a school with nasty bathrooms, less than ideal facilities (athletic / academic) and people who just don’t care about sports.

              I don’t know why Ari rags on the AAA but it doesn’t matter. No matter what any of us say, he will continue on. But doesn’t mean I can’t rag on SHC from now on.

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