The first game of the AAA post-season in Mission’s home “Coach Mac” gymnasium Friday had a fair amount of fireworks, as the host Bears exploded and decided to hold nothing back to blow out the Galileo Lions 75-49. The men in brown and yellow seemed to be sending a message to the other AAA teams: The championship trophy won by Mission last season isn’t going anywhere.
“I could always be happier, but we got the win and we advanced to the playoffs, and that’s what it’s really all about,” said Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya about the win.
The first quarter began slowly, and at 3:51 into the first quarter the scoreboard showed 3-2, with Galileo holding the infinitesimal lead. The Bears soon gathered, however, as the offense surged to end the quarter with a 17-8 lead.
A playoff atmosphere could definitely be sensed during the second frame, as all 10 players on the floor turned up the energy. Bodies flew up and down the court and the game started to get interesting. At the end of the half, Mission enjoyed a double-digit lead of 34-20.
Turnovers explained Galileo’s struggles in the first half: The team threw the ball away 17 times. Mission, on the other hand, handled the ball more efficiently, with only eight turnovers.
Mission asserted itself defensively in the third quarter, permitting Galileo to score only eight points.
At this point, the contest was a 20-plus-point game, and any attempt at a Lions’ comeback was futile. The end result would be 75-49.
The biggest mark was left by Mission’s 6’5″ center Alec Tatum, who had a career night, controlling the game on both sides of the court. Tatum tied his career highs with 16 points and four blocks. The stat that was the most colossal variable was Tatum’s rebounding performance of 18 boards. He persisted to help his team retrieve possession after possession — an energy that played a pivotal role in tonight’s match-up.
“It was a good individual game, but it was all in the team, everybody contributed to the success of tonight‘s victory,” Tatum said.
“We have to clean all of the little things up now and we’ve really got to dial it in now. It’s playoffs, which means that it’s do-or-die,” said the winning head coach Zelaya when asked about what he expects from his kids before the next game on Wednesday.
This defeat ends the Galileo Lions, sending them home until winter comes around again.
Kezar Pavilion is the next stop for the Bears as they face the Wallenberg Bulldogs on Wednesday, March 2.
Wallenberg is coming off a victory over Lincoln and will be prepared to face the Mission Bears.
This will be a rematch of last year’s finals, which ended in Mission taking the championship.
These two teams met earlier in the season, on January 20, inside the McAteer gym. It was close, but the Bears slipped away with a 70-65 victory.