Oh So Close

by staff Mar 9, 2019

Gavilan, CA – As the scoreboard was ticking off the last of the remaining seconds it had, the crowd erupted in jubilation as they saw the basketball go in the hoop to give the home team the appearance a one-point lead. In the minds of many at the Bud and Jean Ottmar Memorial Gymnasium, an epic comeback was complete, a Ram victory was surely at hand. Yet, ringing through the sound of cheers was a high-pitched whistle coming from one of the men wearing black and white stripes. As he pointed towards the opposing basketball signaling that an offensive foul had occurred on the Rams, wiping out the basket, giving the ball to the opposition while silencing the home crowd. The clock had a second or so left, but for all intents and purpose, the game was over and the Rams magical season had come to an end.

Just two hours earlier as tip of approached, the stands at Bill Christopher Court were over three fourths full with a line out the door, as fans of both teams showed up to the CCCAA Men’s Basketball Regional Final between the third seeded Gavilan College Rams and the sixth seeded Bear Cubs of Santa Rosa Junior College. At stake was a place in the State Championships will be held at Ventura College next weekend. For the Rams, the game plan was simple, get off to a good start and contain Santa Rosa’s top scorer Skylar Chavez.

The game got off to a rocky start as both teams missed shots early and often. Three minutes into the game the scoreboard read 4 to 5 in favor of the visiting team. But what had happened in the last playoff game for the Rams appeared to be happing again. The one-point deficit ballooned to 15 to 6 just two minutes later. A pair of dunks by sophomore Xander Bowers seemed to energize the home team, as they were able to put together a string of defensive stops which allowed them to close the gap on the scoreboard. With under 8 minutes left in the first half the Rams were with in five points down 22 to 17. However, the streaky shooting that continued to crop up for the Rams, didn't appear to show up for the Bear Cubs as they went on 10-0 with three minutes left that ended up being stretched out to a 39-26 lead at the half.

Despite being down 13 points, the Rams confidence was still there. Just a week ago they came back from a 14-point deficit to win the game, and this had the same feeling. Two minutes in the second half, the lead was cut to 9. The effort on the defensive end was apparent, but the Rams needed shots to start falling and fall they did. Sophomores Ibn Zaid, Patrick Fisher and DJ Burgess began to find their range from behind the 3-point line, Bowers and Daylon Potts where able to get shots to go from a closer distance. At the 12-minute mark, Santa Rosa had a 51-45 lead, but the momentum was on the side of the Rams as the capacity crowd started to make some noise. Yet just as the Rams seemed to take control of the game, the Bear Cubs and more accurately the fore mention Chavez seemed to answer back with a bucket to keep the lead just out of reach.

With 4 minutes left on the clock, Zaid hit a 3 in the corner to bring the crowd to their feet, the scoreboard read 61-59. The teams traded baskets as time ran down. Then with a 17 second left in the game, Santa Rosa up 67-63, Burgess took a shot at the top of the circle behind the three-point line. The shot bounced and bounce on the rim before falling into the hoop which was followed by a huge roar from the hometown fans. After a time out, the Rams pressed the Bear Cats as they tried to inbound the ball. Once they did, the Rams foul the ball handler putting him on the line to shoot a one on one.  He missed and the Rams quickly rebounded the ball and brought it up to half court before calling a time out with just under 8 seconds left. After the charge call that went against the Rams, they were able to foul and put Santa Rosa back on the free throw line this time they were in the double bonus giving them two shots. They missed the first and made the second. They Rams quickly threw the ball in bound to Fischer as he heaved a three-quarter shot that hit the side of the back board as the final horn sounded ending the Rams season.

Zaid finished his career as a Ram with 24 points to lead Gavilan followed by Burgess 14 points while Bowers had 11 of his own. Potts had another all-around good game as he has all year ending up with 6 points, 17 rebounds and 6 assists. The Rams made 7 of their 23 3-point shots compared to the 8 Santa Rosa hit while taking 26 of their own.  When taking a look at the team stats of both teams, the Rams hit 1 more free throw than Santa Rosa, out rebounded them 35-23, doubled up the assists total 18-9 and only had 4 more turnovers. What might have put the game in favor of the Bear Cubs was the shooting from inside the 3-point line. The visitors hit 50% of their shots while the Rams only hit on 44% of theirs. Santa Rosa’s percentage was mostly due to Chavez, who finished with a game high 27 points.

The Rams finish the season with an overall record of 27-3. They went a perfect 12-0 in Coast Conference South play, wining their second straight conference championship.  They are saying good by to one of the greatest basketball classes in Gavilan College Men’s basketball history. Three of the teams seven sophomore spent both years playing for Gavilan. In those two years they went 51-8 and 21-3 within the conference. Despite the season ending in the heart-breaking fashion it did, these young men will for ever be remember at Gavilan College for the great season and careers they had. Let’s not forget that the 2018-19 Coast Conference Coach of the Year Coach Dallas Jensen will be returning six players from this year’s active roster, five red shirts as well as next years recruiting class. It is safe to say Rams basketball has never been better. Go Rams!