The Calabasas High school basketball team learned an important lesson during Tuesday night's game against Santa Clara.
Santa Clara guard Fred Santana may miss an opportunity to win a game at the end of regulation time, but when it comes to overtime, well, Fred will show it to you.
Santana, a senior guard, missed a two-foot shot with two seconds left in regulation, but scored 11 of his game-high 29 points during overtime to give Santa Clara a 47-41 Frontier League win over the Coyotes at Calabasas.
"Even though we lost, it was encouraging because we now know that we don't have to run to play well," said Calabasas Coach Bill Bellatty, whose team is 11-7 overall and 1-1 in league. "But that Santana is a gritty ballplayer. Maybe we'll box and one on him next time we play."
Calabasas needs to come up with something new if the Coyotes expect to win a league game against Santa Clara (12-4, 2-0). The Coyotes have never beaten the Saints in league--a streak that dates to 1977-78, the first year the Coyotes fielded a varsity basketball team.
Calabasas, however, did beat Santa Clara earlier this season in the second round of the Thousand Oaks tournament, and Bellatty was confident that his team could win again if the game was up-tempo.
However, after getting clobbered on the boards during the first three minutes, Calabasas spread out its offense and tried to play Santa Clara's way. The Coyotes did not have a fast-break opportunity the entire game.
"It was frustrating because I usually get about 10 points a game off the break," said Calabasas forward Steve Ward, who worked against a box-and-one defense and scored 20 points. "It's tough against that type of pressure. Every time I went through the lane, I'd catch an elbow or knee. Then I'd have to try and get a shot off."
Santana had no such trouble. About the only time he was challenged was when he drove the lane with Santa Clara leading, 38-37, with 1:32 left in overtime.
Santana dribbled down to the baseline to the left of the rim, pump faked and then threw up a shot while being fouled. The ball dropped through the net, Santana made the first of seven free throws he would convert in overtime and the game was pretty much over.
"After I missed the shot at the end of regulation, I told myself that I had to keep shooting," said Santana, who was all-league last season. "When I saw I was going to be fouled, I just threw it up, hoping it would go in and that I'd get a chance for the three point play."
Calabasas was leading by one midway in the first quarter when Bellatty had the Coyotes spread out their offense to ease some of the pressure off Ward.
The teams were tied at 16 at halftime and tied again at 27 at the end of the third quarter.
Santa Clara went ahead 36-34 with 3:40 left in regulation on a jumper by Santana. Calabasas answered with 16 seconds left when senior Cory Marschalk drove down the middle of the key with and scored the basket that eventually sent the game into overtime.
"This is my fourth year at Calabasas and we've played these guys eight times and lost seven of them," Ward said. "It's frustrating, but I'm still not convinced they can play with us in a fast break game. We've got one more shot at them. We'll see what happens."