by Caleb Wiley
After a disappointing 0-3 outing in the Open Division Playoffs, the St. John Bosco basketball team has a chance to immediately turn it around with an opportunity to win a Division One State Championship this month.
In a season where the sky was the limit, the Bosco Braves have been through seemingly endless adversity. They lost both top big men – Jonathan Salazar and Christian Estrada – to injury. Many close losses against top teams have coincided with this team as well.
The name of the game for the Braves is going to be how well they can get back up when they are down. Going through many struggles have made this team persevere and grow closer together. They will have to do this once again after going winless in their Open Division pool.
After two close losses against Corona Centennial and Sierra Canyon, people were liking their chances against Mater Dei to close out their pool, especially since they beat them in their last matchup. However, it seemed like Mater Dei just couldn’t miss, making shot after shot in route to a relatively easy victory at the Bosco Thunderdome.
“They played really well, but I honestly thought that we were really tired. We gave it our all against Sierra Canyon and probably never recovered from that,” said Varsity Head Coach Matt Dunn.
Mater Dei beat Bosco 81-69 in a game where they took a big lead and never looked back. With the loss, Bosco finished their pool 0-3.
Looking forward, Bosco now has made the D-1 State Playoffs for the second season in a row and find themselves with a top five seed in the southern section. At the three seed, Bosco will take on Vista High School in the first round.
Both Vista and Bosco come in with the same record of 21-9, but Vista’s wins don’t come close to the competition of teams that Bosco has beaten. Vista is coming from the Avocado East League – which is no pushover – but it does not come close to the level of competition Bosco faces in the Trinity League. The Trinity League is known as one of the best leagues in the nation for high school basketball.
The potential matchup that immediately stands out when you look at the bracket is the possible rematch between Chino Hills and Bosco. Chino has a tough game against Mayfair first, but if both teams win their first round matchups then the second round will feature a rematch between Bosco and Chino Hills again this year.
Last year, St. John Bosco lost to Chino Hills in the regional finals 67-51 after the Braves were outscored 27-2 in the 4th quarter. Having something to look forward to at this time is something this team needs, especially after a string of tough losses.
“To be able to get a chance to redeem ourselves from last year doesn’t always happen. I’m glad we may get a chance to play them again,” said senior point guard Chris James.
However, the the Braves can’t look too far ahead.
“After a long layoff following a tough journey, it does get challenging for guys to stay in the right mindset. We have the ability to make a great run now, but we got to be at a place where we are able to play our best,” said Coach Dunn.
Fellow Trinity League opponent Santa Margarita and Open Division teams Rancho Verde and Etiwanda are all sure to be contenders to look out for as the playoffs progress.
Bosco is always ready to compete and play hard no matter what or who is in front of them. The team is excited to have a chance to redeem themselves.
“We are extremely excited to have another opportunity to win a ring and bring Bosco pride to our community. Especially for us seniors, it’s our last shot,” said senior forward Joshua Adoh.
The team is also liking their chances about their second go-around at the Division One state playoffs.
“I feel we are more experienced and have learned a lot from our first time. I feel confident that we are capable of winning,” said Chris James.
The Braves play their first game Tuesday – tomorrow – at the St. John Bosco Thunderdome, so come out and support the team as they start their playoff journey.