Boys’ Basketball won its first league game of the season against Notre Dame 58-50. After a rough start in the first quarter, the Wolverines came back to secure and maintain the lead throughout the second half. They improve their overall record to 12-4 and are now undefeated in the Mission League.
Guard Johnny Juzang ’20 came back from his foot injury and played in his first game of the season, leading the team in scoring with 21 points. Juzang faced Notre Dame Knight and a fellow top-ranked player, Ziaire Williams ’20. McRae said it was great to have Juzang back on the court.
“Having Johnny back was definitely huge for our team,” wing Holden McRae ’20 said. “When he was out, everyone else had to step up which was good for our individual development. With such a great player returning, our team is additionally dynamic.”
The squad had trouble finding their shot at the start of the game, not scoring their first basket until four minutes remaining in the first quarter. They were down 13-5 at the end of the first quarter.
“In the first quarter we were rushing shots so what we tried to do is slow down and get a couple swings and that made the offense so much easier,” Brase Dottin ’20.
Heading into the second quarter, offensive rebounds and strong defense aided the Wolverines’ comeback. Forward Mason Hooks ’20 and wing Brase Dottin ’20 had back to back offensive boards and put back baskets. During the next possession, Dottin got his own rebound and dished it out to point guard Spencer Hubbard ’20, who scored his second three-point shot of the game.
Juzang heated up and scored six points in the second half of the second quarter. With a three-point shot from wing Adam Hinton ’21 and a shot in the paint by Hooks, the Wolverines tied the game 27-27 to end the half.
Hooks talked about their game plan after tying the game and heading into the third quarter.
“We played good defense and we were able to hit some shots. Johnny made some great plays to get us going too,” Hooks said.
Early in the third quarter, McRae fought in the paint for the first Wolverine lead of the contest. Quickly after, Juzang scored three baskets, for a total of seven points, to make the score 38-32 at the end of the third.
Hubbard commented on strategy heading into the second half and how they were able to secure the lead over the Knights.
“We are a very talented team and they can not guard all of us at the same time, so we played to that advantage and stayed aggressive, penetrated and got our players in the right position to score,” Hubbard said. “We maintained the lead in the second half by staying poised and sticking to our game. We limited turnovers which helped a lot as well.”
Wolverine defense stopped the Knights’ leading scorers during the second half and forced bad possessions. The squad capitalized on its effective defense and translated turnovers into fast break points late in the fourth quarter.
“Throughout the second half, we were really focused on staying true to the game plan we prepped all week defensively,” McRae said. “We also knew that we had to stay together no matter what happened.”
The Knights made a run in the fourth to nearly get the lead but the Wolverines’ scoring drought was ended with a fast break by Juzang. Dottin drove to the basket for an easy two, Hooks followed with points in the paint and McRae increased the lead with two free throws. To clinch the game, Juzang had an assist to Hooks, who finished at the rim with a dunk.
McRae commented on the win tonight, and how it affects the team’s seasons.
“Getting a win like this under our belt definitely boosts our confidence moving forward throughout the rest of the season,” McRae said. “Notre Dame is one of the better teams in our league so beating them proved to us what we can do and how far we can go. We know we have to focus on every game one at a time, but a league championship is definitely our goal.”
The team’s next game is tomorrow night against Mayfair High School in the Take Flight Challenge at Redondo Union High School with tip-off scheduled for 7 p.m. The Wolverines have their next league home game on Jan. 11 against rival Loyola High School at 7 p.m.