It wasn’t known just a few days ago if Addason Wright would even play in San Luis Obispo High School’s CIF-Central Section Division 2 semifinal playoff game against Lemoore.
Wright turned his ankle after a layup in the quarterfinals against Fresno last week and was on crutches for the following days.
“Yesterday I got it taped up and went to the trainer. They worked on it, said I was like 70 percent,” Wright said.
Wright went to head coach Jeff Brandow, and after looking him in the eye told him: “Coach, I’m going to play.”
Injured and all, Wright hit nine 3-pointers — including five in the third quarter — for 27 points to help San Luis Obispo to a 90-82 victory and into the section finals.
“I missed the first couple, but then I kept going, and they started going in,” Wright said.
Wright said he “gutted it out.”
The same could be said for the rest of the team, which fell behind by as many as 10 points early.
“We got down big early. Timeout. We responded. (Lemoore) came out in the third quarter; they went on a huge run. We responded,” Brandow said. “I couldn’t be more proud of these kids.”
A different team
Brandow said this year’s team is much different than last year’s, which also reached the section semis. Wright was the only senior this season who played on that team.
This year’s team is much bigger and doesn’t have to rely on the three as much.
“It took a while for us to grow into who we are as a team,” said Brandow, whose team went 7-5 in a talented Mountain League.
He credited what he said was a meaningless game on paper at a tournament in San Diego in which San Luis Obispo fell behind 22 points in the third quarter. They came back to win.
“It was one of those unbelievable comebacks, and ever since then, our kids have said, ‘Hey, you know we can always come back,’” said Brandow, who has coached San Luis Obispo to back-to-back 20-win seasons.
Breaking the trap
San Luis Obispo struggled initially with the Lemoore press — which lasted the entire game — complete with platoon substitutions to keep players fresh.
Junior Carson Leedom helped break the trap by providing an outlet down the court for guard Emilio Corona. Leedom finished with 15 points, and also made crucial passes to Connor Torell — who had 23 points — around the basket, and Wright on the perimeter.
“I’ve said it all along, Carson Leedom is the best player in the area,” Brandow said. “I wouldn’t trade him for anybody.”
Corona had 16 points, and Sam Ogden had eight more.
Brandow said that reaching the CIF championship was the No. 1 goal the team set at the beginning of the year.
“It wasn’t beating one school or win a league championship, those were all down there, two, three, four, five. The No. 1 goal we had was: let’s play for a CIF championship.”
San Luis Obispo (21-10) will play San Joaquin Memorial in the championship on Friday. San Joaquin Memorial features one of the best players in the country in Jalen Green, who played at the Mission Prep Christmas Classic in December.