By Michael Ragovin
La Jolla’s The Bishop’s School Knights varsity basketball team played host to the West Lake Boys High School team from Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, Dec. 15, 2012. The team from down under was taller, bigger and stronger, but not faster — and did not play with near as much heart — but the visiting New Zealand team still they won the game 67-63.
As Bishop’s Assistant Athletic Director Andy Kozan put it, “We are small, so everyone automatically thinks it’s going to be a blood bath. Our kids dig in, play hard, they’re fearless, and they play well as a team.”
The game wasn’t anything close to a blowout. It was a hotly contested, very close and exciting basketball game — all the way to the final buzzer.
Jamir Jones scored the first basket for Bishop’s and led the Knights with 25 points. Bishop’s jumped out to a 5-0 lead. With four minutes left in the first quarter, Bishop’s held a lead 10-4. Jones made a great spin move to the basket that made the score 14-8 with two minutes remaining, followed by Wesley Fishburn’s two free throws.
Then Fishburn followed with a great move to the basket, muscling his way to the hoop, adding two more points for Bishop’s.
The quarter ended on a three-point play by West Lake. Bishop lead 17-13 at the beginning of the second quarter.West Lake scored the first and only points of the first two minutes of the second quarter from the three-point arc. Jones followed with a three.
Bishop’s scored five straight to make it 23-16 Bishop’s.
Five straight points by West Lake followed a three-point basket by Jones. The second quarter ended with West Lake hitting on a three with the score 33-32 in favor of the Knights.
The second half began with West Lake scoring the initial four points and taking the lead for the first time 36-33. This was followed by an New Zealand lay-in and three-pointer to make the score 41-33 West Lake.
Bishop’s had yet to score in the third quarter with 4:23 remaining. Bishop’s dug in and scrapped its way to a 12-5 run, cutting the West Lake lead to 46-45.
The quarter ended with Jamir Jones stealing the ball and converting the lay-in. Bishop’s took the 49-45 lead into the fourth quarter.
A three-point basket by West Lake began the fourth. With six minutes left in the quarter, Jones made a great move to the basket and the score was 54-51 Knights. The infamous turning point immediately followed.
A Bishop’s player was called for fouling a West Lake player while in the act of shooting.
A two-point opportunity for West Lake became a four-point opportunity when the referee teed-up a Bishop’s player.
It seems the unlucky guy was walking toward the bench, saying, “There was nothing I could do. I didn’t foul,” intending it for the coach’s ears. Unfortunately, the referee heard it and called a technical foul.
The two-point violation became a four-point nightmare and the winning margin.
From there it continued to be a closely contested game with Bishop’s finally giving up the lead for good with about 2:30 left to play.
Bishop’s Head Coach Matt Niehues said after the game, “We played well and maybe a bit too aggressively at times. Our guards are so quick they cause a lot of mistakes for the guys. They are only sophomores and have a real future ahead of them.”
About Jamir Jones, the coach said, “He does a real good job attacking the rim and is a real good shooter.”
Bishop’s teamwork, tenacity, desire, quickness and ability to trap the opposing player with the ball was very impressive. These are the qualities of a well-coached team.