The Coast Union boys basketball team clinched the Coast Valley League title Tuesday, Feb. 3, by defeating Maricopa 65-52. Gehrig Kniffen tallied 25 points and had five rebounds; Nahum Hernandez grabbed eight rebounds, scored seven points and blocked two shots for Coast Union.
The Broncos paved the way for their run to the title with a 45-39 win over second-place Valley Christian on Friday, Jan. 30 — their second win over the Lions in January.
The Broncos beat the Lions thanks to a burst of energy that allowed them to outscore the visitors 9-3 in a fourth quarter that began with the two teams deadlocked 36-36.
Coach Bobby Youngs was asked what motivational strategy he used to push his team in that fourth quarter.
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“They kind of did it themselves,” he said. “They knew they had to play more team ball. In the first half, the team was relying on Gehrig Kniffen and Jez Lawson. But in the fourth quarter, they realized the team will win this, not just two players.
“So in the fourth quarter, they played good defense, had some good rebounds and made some smart shots.”
Kniffen led the team with 23 points; Sam MacKinnon hit three-pointers a total of three times; Lawson added eight points; and Nahum Hernandez grabbed 10 rebounds.
Kniffen’s father, Steve, in attendance at Friday night’s game, said his son’s last three-pointer (with 45 seconds left, which basically sealed the victory) was made from “at least seven feet behind the three-point arc.”
“It was truly Gehrig’s finest high school moment,” the Steve Kniffen said. “He has been training every day of his life since he was in second grade for that shot, and he was not afraid. He knew in the morning that shot was coming. He was scared and nervous, but not afraid, just giddy with anticipation. Destiny is a weird thing.”
Steve Kniffen noted that Sam MacKinnon also hit a three-pointer in that fourth quarter and Jack MacKinnon played some “good defense” to keep the Lions from scoring.
At halftime Youngs, told the Broncos they needed to hustle back on defense.
They had come in prepared. Youngs said he knew the game was critical, so during the week he “stepped up practice, increased the tempo a little bit, increased defensive drills and shooting drills, and it seemed to work.”
The coach’s philosophy on offense is for his team to take shots “with confidence: Don’t just wish that it will go in, feel confident that it will go in.”
Youngs gave credit to the sophomores on the team who have “stepped up way more than I ever could imagine. They’re the ones that are pretty much carrying our team.”
The Broncos have two league games left on their schedule — Maricopa on the road and Shandon at home Friday, Feb. 13 — before the CIF playoffs begin. Youngs has no worries that the team will sleepwalk through these last two games.
He emphasizes “One game at a time.”
Valley Christian 35, Coast Union 7
The Lady Broncos basketball team was defeated by Valley Christian Academy 35-7 on Friday night, Jan. 30. That defeat should be taken into context, coach Emilie Foster said, because in the two previous games Coast played against Valley Christian, the Lions scored 51 and 58 points.
“Our goal against Valley Christian Academy was to hold them defensively,” Foster explained. “We did that, keeping them to just 35 points and their high scorer to 10.
“So as far as we are concerned, we accomplished our goals, and I am proud of our performance,” she said.
The Lady Broncos are 5-2 in league play.
On Feb. 3, Coast bounced back to top Maricopa 42-7 thanks to Reagan Kniffen’s 16 points and eight other players contributing points. The Lady Broncos held Maricopa scoreless in the second half. The last home game of the season for the team is Feb. 13 against Shandon, at 5 p.m.
The Santa Lucia Middle School girls B basketball team defeated Lewis Middle School 13-10 on Tuesday, Feb 3. Mira Panchal had seven points and seven rebounds.
The Warriors A team didn’t fare as well, losing 22-6 to Lewis.
Karis Lawson had four points and five rebounds for the Warriors.