Coming off an agonizing defeat at the buzzer last week, the San Marcos High boys basketball team took the floor Tuesday with something to prove.
The Royals were able to make their point in a big way behind a stifling defense, as San Marcos was victorious by a score of 53-27 over Santa Ynez at the Thunderhut.
“We wanted to kind of get out some frustration from Friday,” San Marcos coach Jenali Hicks said postgame. “They’re obviously upset, but we’ve always been on them about ‘how do we respond?’
“Those losses are going to happen, but how do we respond? We’ve had a few tough losses this year and every time we’ve responded pretty well, so that’s always promising.”
The Royals (10-9, 2-1 in the Channel League) were able to get it done offensively through a balanced attack. Isaiah Hicks led the way with nine points, while seniors Will Pace and Tony Njia finished with eight. Jeroe Bidlow added six off the bench, with starters Thomas Kinzler and John Connolly scored five and four, respectively.
“That’s definitely something we pride ourselves on,” Pace told the News-Press after the win. “We pride ourselves on being a super wide team, a team with a deep lineup, where we can have everybody come off the bench and make plays. It helps because it brings us together as a team and it helps us with that one goal, which is winning.”
San Marcos had nine different players record a basket on Tuesday. While they were able to spread the wealth on the offensive end, each player who took the floor for the home squad was tenacious on defense. The Royals deflected a number of pass attempts and forced several turnovers that led to easy baskets. They were also able to force at least four shot-clock violations, which was quite the accomplishment given the team defends nearly all 84 feet of the floor. Even without the full-court press the Pirates (7-13, 0-3) were held to just two points in the fourth quarter.
“We knew that we could pressure them and we knew, based on the scouting report, that they don’t necessarily like that, so we just wanted to do our job in terms of being consistent in our effort,” Hicks said.
Hicks was pleased with the play of his big men, with Pace, Bidlow and Van Bogelen all logging key minutes. Bidlow was extremely active around the rim on both sides of the court and was able to corral a number of rebounds.
“With his energy and his intensity, when he’s locked in like that he’s a big asset for us,” Hicks said of Bidlow. “Our bigs have been playing good for us all season, and having three of them, especially at this school, is not always common. They all do things a little different, but collectively they have been pretty good for us.”
Prior to Tuesday’s game, Hicks said he addressed his team following their 45-43 loss against Santa Barbara on Friday.
“I told them to remember what the less felt like,” he said.
“We really had to rally together,” Pace said. “It was obviously a morale hit when we took that loss… but we came back really strong.
“It shows a lot about our determination and it shows a lot about our commitment to this team. We did it tonight in this gym because we do it every night in practice.”
San Marcos is also welcoming back senior Tommy Condon, who made his season debut Friday against Santa Barbara. Up until last week, Condon has been sidelined with a foot injury. A first-team Channel League selection last year, Hicks is looking forward to having Condon back in the rotation.
“Once we get him rocking and rolling, he’s a big piece,” Hicks said. “He’s definitely a big weapon for us and we’re glad to have him back.”