The entertainment level is high and the price is low. Plus, it
could well be history in the making for this year
’s Live Oak High boys basketball team.
The entertainment level is high and the price is low. Plus, it could well be history in the making for this year’s Live Oak High boys basketball team.

This season’s edition of the Acorns is on pace to finish among the best – and quite possibly the best ever – basketball teams in school history. Some have picked the Acorns to finish on top the newly formed Tri-County Athletic League, and they’re sure bets to qualify for the Central Coast Section playoffs.

Live Oak is currently 12-2 in the preseason, but that all goes out the window once the league season begins Saturday, Jan.18, at Hollister.

Already the team has generated excitement among fans and rivals – plus attracted interest from coaches at four-year colleges and universities checking out players for possible scholarship offers.

Just two weeks ago the roar in the Gilroy High gym neared the top of the noise meter as Acorn and Mustang fans took turns seeing which could out scream the other. The support helped the Acorns capture the title of the Bob Hagen Memorial Classic.

In fact, several times this season Live Oak fans, in the opinion of the referees, have been too boisterous and had to be told to quiet down.

Live Oak fans have come out in strong numbers this year. And why not? This team is one of the hottest teams from San Francisco to Monterey. If history cycles itself as before, there may not be another team like this for another 20 years. Live Oak had strong teams in the 1980’s and 1960’s.

Games are far more exciting than movies. Well, better than most of the flicks. And they are a lot cheaper than prime-time admission, too. Adults can see the Acorns play for $6, and kids get in for $4. Students with an ASB card get in for $2. Seniors over 55 and kids under 5 get in free.

With three players approaching 7 feet tall, Acorn fans have seen several dunks this year. Transfer student Maciek Bratkowski from Poland is the tallest player on the team at 6-foot-10. Bratkowski is second in scoring behind 6-foot-5 Miles Curley, who also can dunk. Drew Pearson and Chris Deem, both at 6-foot-9, have also contributed with their height, nabbing rebounds and getting easy putbacks.

Sometimes when teams have the height, they don’t have the supporting crew around them. But the Acorns have players who compliment the height such as point guard Joel Wright, who leads the team with 22 three-pointers.

Even though the team has had success in the preseason, coach Bret Paolucci knows he can’t take anything for granted. The pressure is on Paolucci and the Acorns to step up their game plan and be more creative offensively. Anything short of a league title will be seen as many as a failure despite the record.

None of the 10 league games will be easy, not that there have been any easy games in the preseason. Each game will be tough. After Live Oak’s last preseason game on Jan. 7, the team will be at home five more times during the regular league schedule.

Live Oak traditionally has had trouble in the playoffs. According to Central Coast Section records, Live Oak has never won a CCS game in six tries. The Acorns seem to choke when it comes crunch time. There will be a lot of pressure on the team to do well in league.

But it won’t be easy playing some of the best teams around. Maybe one of the few breaks Live Oak received by moving into the Tri-County Athletic League from the Monterey Bay League is not having to face Alisal and Monterey high schools in league. The teams that Live Oak does play (Palma, Salinas, Gilroy, North Salinas and Hollister), however, are no pushovesr.

The only team that does not have a winning record so far in the league is Gilroy. But the Mustangs have some talent and hustle on the team and are capable of turning it around quickly.

With each team playing home and away games, they will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses like their own, making for some exciting and fun basketball in the year 2003.

Upcoming home games between now and the TCAL opening are at Sequoia tonight and then Jan. 7 against Monterey.

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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