Urgency was palpable throughout the gym as the La Jolla High boys varsity basketball team prepared to host Cathedral Catholic Jan. 9. Having started 0-2 in Western League play, the Vikings saw their season slipping away far too early.
“We wanted to get on them early and make sure they didn’t get too hot,” said Junior Behzad Hashemi, who led all scorers with 20 points in the 54-47 win for La Jolla. “Cathedral’s a good, solid team. They beat Patrick (Henry High), who we lost to … We did a good job as a team keeping our foot on the gas pedal.”
The proverbial gas pedal was necessary throughout the game, which never saw the Vikings lead by double digits. The Dons trailed though each quarter, but remained within shouting distance all game, nearly sizing control with full-court pressure in the final minutes.
“A couple times, we could have pulled away, but they were tight there with us,” Hashemi confessed. “When the press came, I don’t know if we were tired or what was the deal, but we did a good job. They forced some turnovers and made it a little bit closer than we probably would have hoped, but we kept our wherewithal.”
While pleased with the win, La Jolla knows improvement against such pressure will be necessary if it hopes to be competitive in remaining league games.
“We are a team that thrives on tempo,” observed head coach Paul Baranowski. “We’re much better at being in control of pace, rather than adjusting. If we’re gonna run transition offense (intentionally), we’re fine. When we’re trying to slow the game down and someone tries to speed things up, we’re not as clean as we need to be.”
With athletic, perimeter-oriented teams such as Mission Bay (played Jan. 16) scheduled, Baranowski seeks to address this shortcoming in practice.
Before then, the Vikings hosted St. Augustine, Jan. 12. The game ended with a Viking loss, 64-38.