Posted on 19 February 2014 by La Habra Journal
Jake Rivera led Whittier Christian with 13 points in the Heralds’ 43-19 win over Templeton in the first round of the CIF-SS Division 4AA playoffs, Wednesday night at home.
by Nathan Percy
La Habra Journal
In the first quarter of its CIF-SS Division 4AA first round playoff game at home, the Whittier Christian boys’ basketball team looked as if it was the team that had just made a five-hour trip, coming out flat and falling behind against Templeton.
However, after a brief talk from the coaching staff, the Heralds’ defense completely shut down the Eagles from the second quarter on, holding Templeton without a field goal over the final 24 game minutes in a 43-19 first-round win, Wednesday night at home.
“We definitely came out slow, I don’t know if it was nerves for playoffs, but Coach got on us right away and told us we needed to pick it up,” said Ryan Esslinger, team captain. “I think we responded well. I thought it was a really good defensive game for us.”
Offensively, the Heralds woke up in the third quarter, using its size advantage to bully its way to offensive rebounds and put-back points.
Stephen Nolin scored six of his eight points in the third quarter, while Shawn Stolt added half of his eight points in the quarter as the Heralds turned a five-point advantage into a 22-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
“We talked before the game about our size advantage and thought, ‘What good is it to have size advantage if you don’t use it?’” said Sherwin Durham, Heralds head coach. “I don’t think we did a good job of that in the first quarter, but then we got our posts some touches, which opened up the perimeter. We switched up the offense and focused on post screens to get our inside guys better looks.”
However, it was a five-point swing by Jake Rivera that gave the Heralds its initial separation. Rivera was fouled during a put-back and made the ensuing free throw.
On the next possession, Rivera snuck around the defense on the baseline. Ryan Esslinger lobbed a pass from the left side, which Rivera easily converted into a layup and a 22-13 lead.
“We knew we had a height advantage, so the coaches told us to move the ball and get our posts some touches,” Esslinger said. “Shawn and big Steve came up huge in the second half.”
Whittier Christian cruised to the win in the fourth quarter.
But the game wasn’t a runaway for the Heralds early on. After taking a brief lead in the first quarter, Templeton drained a trio of 3-pointers to take early control.
Guard Matt Ehrke hit two of those 3-pointers for an early 6-6 tie. He scored all seven of his points in the first quarter.
Guard Matt Jardini hit a late 3-pointer to give the Eagles a 12-9 lead after the first quarter.
Templeton, playing without leading scorer Will Mehring, was led by Jardini with nine points, five of which came from the free-throw line.
“I think we were a little overanxious, it being a playoff game at home,” Durham said. “We came out a little flat, but we really didn’t have to get on them, they knew and after that, we pretty much took care of business.”
After the discussion between quarters, the Heralds held Templeton to two points combined in the second and third quarters.
Meanwhile, Jake Rivera got going with a pair of baskets, scoring four of his game-high 13 points in the second quarter and leading Whittier Christian to a 17-12 halftime lead.
“It feels good to move on, last year was pretty disappointing,” Esslinger said. “This year, to move on and try to make a run at this, I think we have the talent to do it, so it’ll be fun.”
Ryan Esslinger added seven points for the Heralds. Stolt led the team with eight rebounds, while Rivera, Nolin and Jimmy West added six rebounds each.
Whittier Christian will head to either Laguna Beach High for a matchup with the Breakers on Friday at 7 p.m. Laguna Beach defeated Bosco Tech 58-42 in the first round.
“We know a little bit about Laguna Beach, they can shoot the ball, but they’re not as deep, they go about six players,” Durham said. “We just have to try to maintain against their shooters.”