The Coast Union High School boys basketball team was gifted with the good fortune of a home game to open the CIF-Southern Section Division 5AA playoffs despite its second-place finish in the Coast Valley League — usually that would mean hitting the road in the first round.
But the Broncos were faced with a tough challenge Thursday, Feb. 7, nonetheless — matching up with Yeshiva University of Los Angeles, which brought more tactical skill and height than small Coast Union is accustomed to. Yeshiva also had sharpshooters and an unending aggressiveness, all translating to a 63-28 loss to end Coast’s season.
To begin with, the Broncos faced a relentless full court press from the Panthers; just getting the ball past mid-court was difficult as the taller, uncompromising opposition boxed individual players up and often stole the ball.
For the local fans who attended 4 p.m. game, it played out like a David and Goliath scenario — but despite being dominated, the home team never quit, never backed down and battled hard to the end.
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First-year Coast Union coach Gehrig Kniffen said his team “improved throughout the course of the season,” and his “biggest assessment” was “just how great this group of guys is… great kids, great parents and bright futures.”
Asked what he learned in his first year of coaching high school basketball, Kniffen said he had “a lot of ideas” at the beginning of the season, but as the season progressed “I had to learn to adapt plans based on what was the most pressing matter we had to work on that day.”
He said once his team kept things simple, basically fundamental, “we started seeing our best results.”
Juniors Nate Markham (18.5 points per game) and David Amodei (8.7) led the team in scoring this season. Markham also hauled down the most rebounds (9.5 per game), while senior David May averaged 4.9 boards per game. Senior Forrest Johnson led the team with 45 3-point shots made and averaged 8.1 points per game.