If you can’t get to an hour early for Wednesday’s 7 p.m. boys basketball showdown, you might be out of luck.
The best Mustang team in school history — 27 wins and just four losses — will play host to the No. 11 ranked team in the state, the Bishop O'Dowd Dragons from Oakland, in a semifinal of the North Coast Section Division III tournament. Few would argue that it’s the biggest boys basketball game in the San Marin’s 43-year history.
"With the amount of phone calls, e-mails and texts we've been getting, I would imagine the game should sell out well before tipoff,” coach Craig Pitti said. “It is so great to see the community rallying behind us. Obviously this run has been aided by our great student body and the SM community who have been behind us throughout.”
The doors will open at 5:45 p.m. according to NCS playoff game protocol, and everyone is advised to show up by 6:15, Pitti said. Once the gym is filled, no one else will be allowed inside.
"We certainly hope all of our students and community gets there early to ensure as many Mustangs as possible can be there to root us on,” Pitti said. “It will be a historic night one way or another. Hopefully we can give the crowd something to remember for a long time.”
The Dragons (21-5) come in as the second place finisher in the Hayward Area Athletic League behind the No. 7 ranked team in the state, Castro Valley, which beat O’Dowd twice in league play. On the floor, the Dragons are led by 6-foot-9 junior center Brandon Ashley, ESPN's No. 7 ranked player in the nation for the class of 2012. Ashley is being recruited by Arizona, Cal, Kansas and Kentucky. Sharing the frontcourt with Ashley is 6-6 power forward Richard Longrus, giving the Dragons the most dominating post combination in the Bay Area if not the state.
They have an outside threat, too, in 5-11 shooting guard Anders Haas, Pitti said.
San Marin counters with 6-7 senior center Stuart Wesonga, the top player in the Marin County Athletic League who is headed to Cal State Northridge on a scholarship next fall, and a scrappy lineup of starters Chris Glennon, Jimmy Burrows, John Seavey, Ryan Zirkle plus key reserves Alex Triantafyllos and Dominic Coyne.
"You could play this game on paper easily and O'Dowd would win no matter how you want to add it up,” Pitti said. “As corny as it sounds, the game is played on the floor. With our home fans behind us and intelligent play on the floor, we can do this.”
Pitt said the San Marin/O’Dowd matchup isn't one his team would win over a best-of-seven series, “but like the NCAA Tournament in a single-elimination game, if we stick to our game plan, play hard and smart, and force them to beat us not beat ourselves, I like our chances to be there competing at the end of the game. Then it comes down to free throws and execution. I know these guys will be ready to go."
If the Mustangs win, the NCS Championship Game will be either Friday, March 4, or Saturday, March 5. NCS will announce the game date and site at the conclusion of Wednesday's semifinals.