It’s safe to say that if a team ever goes on a 31-0 run, that team is most likely going to win the game. Well, Calaveras went on a 31-0 run against the Bret Harte Bullfrogs and yes, picked up the victory.
In the last game of the regular season, Calaveras hosted the Bullfrogs for senior night and will now enter the playoffs feeling good after its 62-34 win Friday night at Mike Flock Gym in San Andreas.
Even though the Bullfrogs ended up losing by 28, they had the lead until midway through the second quarter. Bret Harte jumped out to an 8-3 lead with points from sophomore Erik Trent, Kaden Palmer and senior Tanner Gerhart and went into the second quarter with an 8-7 advantage.
“There’s no doubt that Brian (Barnett) does a good job with them,” Calaveras head coach Kraig Clifton said. “They are going to play hard and play for every possession.”
With 4:35 to play in the half, Bret Harte senior Jaden Bitner hit a jumper from the elbow, which gave the Bullfrogs a 12-10 lead. That would be the last basket Bret Harte made until 1:50 to play in the third quarter. During that time, Calaveras went on to outscore the Bullfrogs 31-0.
“We started out with energy and we hit a couple of shots early and got some confidence,” Bret Harte head coach Brian Barnett said. “Then, we went into one of our lulls. We just seem to do that. We don’t have the offensive firepower and we’ve seen it happen all year. Then you have a turnover here and a turnover there and it comes with our youth.”
Trailing 12-10, Calaveras ended the second quarter on a 17-0 run with points from Colton Buckholz, AJ Cardon, Griffin Manning and Tim Van Damme. Calaveras led 27-12 at halftime.
“These games are a lot of fun to play in,” Buckholz said. “Most of the school shows up, it’s so loud, the band is playing and the atmosphere is just awesome.”
After ending the half on a 17-0 run, Calaveras continued its hot play by scoring 14 more unanswered points. And by the time Bret Harte junior Karol Okulski made a 3-point basket in the corner, Calaveras had built a 42-15 lead.
“We had a little slow start, which seems to be the norm in these games, but it was good to see us able to snap out of it,” Clifton said.
Bret Harte ended the third quarter with baskets from junior Luka Miro and Bitner, but Calaveras still had a commanding 43-20 lead.
The Bullfrogs continued to fight and put up 14 points in the final eight minutes. And while the final score is not what he wanted, Barnett was proud of the way his players continued to battle.
“We could have rolled over and died, but we didn’t and that was a good way to end it,” Barnett said.
Trent led Bret Harte with nine points; Miro had six points; Okulski scored five points; while Bitner and Palmer scored four points.
Bret Harte finishes the Mother Lode League season 2-8 and will once again miss out on the playoffs. And while the standings may not show it, Barnett feels that his team is headed in the right direction and it is this group of players who have started to lay the foundation.
“We are starting something and something special is happening and it’s just going to take a while,” Barnett said. “These guys work hard. This group comes to work and they don’t give up. With all this transfer stuff happening, we want guys who want to come in and work and want to be here and want to be part of something that needs to get rolling again. We’ve got some talent coming in and regardless of talent, this group never stopped playing hard.”
Manning led Calaveras with 17 points; Buckholz had 11 points; senior Kaven Orlandi scored 10 points; Tim Van Damme had nine points; freshman Elijah Malamed scored four points off the bench in the fourth quarter; and Isaiah Williams scored two points in the win.
“I think this is the best that we’ve played as a team and we just have to keep it going,” Buckholz said.
With Friday’s win, Calaveras now has 20 victories on the year and finishes the Mother Lode League season 7-3 and in second place. Up next is the playoffs and after winning four straight games to cap the regular season, Clifton feels good about the next chapter of basketball.
“I like where we are at right now, but it’s also the playoffs,” Clifton said. “One bad night or one bad mistake and it’s over. You are not going to play someone who is not good. It’s dangerous, but I like where we are at right now.”