…Only to Lose In the Final Seconds to Campolindo, 62 – 61
If you missed this Acalanes vs. Campolindo game, you missed a great one. After an embarrassing 1st quarter where Acalanes was outscored 23 to 6, the Dons proceeded to outscore Campolindo 55 to 39 over the next three quarters to take the lead from the Cougars and battle them down to the final buzzer.
The first eight minutes of the game (I will be kind) were a “cluster” for Acalanes. With 3:46 to go in the 1st quarter, Acalanes down 9 – 4, the Head Coach of Acalanes, Dave Goldman, decided to take out all five starters from the game to insert five new players. In just a span of 2 minutes and 30 seconds Campolindo went on a 14 – 0 run and expanded their lead to a ridiculous 23 to 4…and the quarter had not ended. However, with 1:09 remaining in the 1st quarter, Coach Goldman decided he had seen enough of his experiment and re-inserted the starting five. They quickly got 2 points for the Dons before the first quarter mercifully ended, the score after one, Campolindo 23 and Acalanes 6.
I thought it would be impossible for Acalanes to catch Campolindo after putting themselves into such a hole. However, this 2015-16 Acalanes Boys Varsity Basketball Team would not “go gentle into that good night.” What did they do? HELLO…THEY PLAYED TO WIN THE GAME!!! Throughout the final three quarters of the game, the Acalanes varsity boys showed great resilience, toughness and togetherness that should make all associated with Acalanes proud. Just know this, on Thursday night, the Acalanes Dons came to play and they took it to the Cougars over the final 24 minutes of the game.
In the second quarter, the line-up of Andrew McKendell, Alex Kinnear, Jesse Marlow, Aidan McNamara and Ryan Nall jump started a memorable comeback for Acalanes. Marlow and McNamara heated-up from outside; Kinnear and Nall grabbed boards; and McKendell took the ball to the hoop. With the first half clock winding down under 6 seconds, McKendell drove left past the Campo defense for a lay-up just before the horn sounded. This basket cut the Cougars lead from 17 points down to 9 points, 38 – 29. Acalanes outscored Campolindo 23 to 15. The momentum had definitely shifted.
The momentum from the 2nd quarter carried into the 3rd quarter. However, it would not really get ramped-up until late in the quarter. With 5:47 to go in the 3rd quarter, Acalanes fell behind Campolindo by 14 points, 45 – 31. But over the final 3:18 of the quarter, the Dons went on a 13 – 3 run to cut Campo’s lead to 2 points, 50 – 48. The Acalanes bench and fans were feeling it. The Don’s 13 – 3 run was sparked by the 3 point sharp shooting of Alex Kinnear, who did not hit his first shot until late in the 3rd quarter. Kinnear would continue his hot shooting into the 4th quarter.
58 seconds into the 4th quarter, Acalanes took its first lead of the game, 51 – 50, on a 3 point basket by Aidan McNamara. The Acalanes bench and crowd erupted. A lead over Campolindo late in a varsity basketball game??!! It was a new feeling for many Acalanes fans and we loved it. In Andrew McKendell’s and Alex Kinnear’s five previous varsity games against Campolindo, I am pretty certain Acalanes never held a lead. This was no fluke. The Dons played inspired basketball and controlled the tempo of the game from the 2nd quarter on. You knew this game would go down to the wire. The Campolindo crowd had already seen several 4th quarter leads get squandered by their team this season and they had just witnessed one more.
The 4th quarter was hotly contested. Campolindo took their lead back shortly after Acalanes had it. It would grow to as much as 4 points with 3:01 to go. After a free throw by McKendell with 1:42 to go, the Dons cut the Cougar’s lead down to 2 points, 60 – 58. On Campolindo’s next possession, after passing the ball around, Campo forward Austin Clarke would take an open shot from behind the three point line. His shot went in and out and Kinnear grabbed the rebound. The Dons quickly advanced the ball down the floor. Marlow drove to the basket and dished the ball to Kinnear at the free throw line. His shot rattled around and rolled out but Jesse Marlow grabbed the rebound of the night. With big bodies all around him, Marlow squeezed a bounce pass out to Kinnear who had relocated himself beyond the three point line. Kinnear set his feet and let it fly…SWISH!!! Acalanes leads with 56 seconds to go. The Acalanes crowd exploded in cheer. Campolindo guard Will Hicks dribbled the ball into the front court and called time out in front of his bench with 45.6 seconds remaining. A victory over Campolindo was less than one minute away.
After the Campo time-out, the Cougars got the basketball to their best offensive weapon, Austin Clarke, who had been held in check by the Dons for most of the game. Clarke got the ball at the top of the key, drove left to the basket, took a tough left handed lay-up attempt which Ryan Nall blocked and Acalanes secured the rebound. NOT SO FAST MY FRIEND! A foul was called. The baseline official made a horrendous call that allowed Clarke to go to the free throw line to try and give the Cougars the lead. He missed both free throw attempts but Acalanes could not grab the rebound and the official called the ball off Ryan Nall, Campo ball with 33.2 seconds remaining. After Campolindo inbounded the ball, senior forward Madison Young took a tough runner in the key that missed. Campo senior center Sterling Strothers grabbed the rebound but had his shot attempt blocked by Aidan McNamara but somehow the ball got deflected into the hands of Clarke who was standing on the low block and put the ball up and in to give Campo a 62 – 61 lead with 12.4 seconds to go. Acalanes immediately inbounded the ball to Andrew McKendell, who passed it down the left wing to Jesse Marlow who drove left, got double teamed and after pivoting away from the defense, eventually found Aidan McNamara open behind the three point line. Aidan had a clean look and took a great shot. Unfortunately, it was just off the mark as the final buzzer sounded. The valiant comeback effort by the Dons fell just short and Campolindo avoided another 4th quarter melt down. It was heartache for all of the Acalanes players but especially for the five seniors (Joey Christensen, Nathan Edwards, Nico Brightbill, Alex Kinnear and Andrew McKendell) who were looking for their first basketball victory over Campolindo in 4 seasons.
This game was a coming-out party for sophomore shooting guard Aidan McNamara who played excellent basketball on both ends of the floor for the Dons. He was aggressive offensively and relentless on defense. McNamara ended the game with 14 points, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and 2 blocked shots. The Dons also saw what looked like a 100% healthy Alex Kinnear who energized the Dons in both the 3rd and 4th quarters with his outside shooting. Clarke of Campo tried to slow down Kinnear on offense but Alex would have none of it. He lit up Clarke in the second half of the game to end with 16 points. Kinnear also grabbed 6 rebounds and came away with 2 steals. Jesse Marlow was his usual productive self on offense and defense. Marlow scored 12 points, grabbed 3 rebounds and dished out what I believe is his personal season high in assists – 5. Sophomore Ryan Nall once again stood tall in the key for the Dons and pulled down 5 rebounds and played great defense. Nall also contributed 8 points on the offensive side of the court. Andrew McKendell did what he always does best: handled the rock, orchestrated the offense, got everyone involved, attacked the basket and kept Acalanes under control at all times. McKendell ended the game with 7 points, 7 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 steal. These five players played almost the entire second half without a break. It was fun to watch them get after Campolindo.
Senior Night is on Tuesday February 16th versus Dublin. Please come out and show your love and support for our five senior players, Andrew McKendell, Alex Kinnear, Joey Christensen, Nathan Edwards and Nico Brightbill. Arrive early in order to see the celebration.
As Always…Go Dons!!!