If the Sobrato High boys basketball team ends up winning the Blossom Valley League Santa Teresa East Division championship this season—and one could argue the Bulldogs are the favorites—they will have done it by holding their own on the boards, playing tough defense and being physical.
Sobrato entered the week at 3-1, with its only loss coming to a 7-0 Aptos team that looks like one of the best in the Central Coast Section. There are a lot of good things to like about Sobrato’s team, including the fact that everyone in the starting lineup is 6-foot-1 or taller.
“With that size we have to enforce our will every night, just like Aptos did to us,” Bulldogs coach Sean Tate said, referring to a 64-26 defeat to Aptos in the opening round of the Bob Hagen Gilroy Tournament on Dec. 9. “When that ball goes up, bodies should be flying—and it shouldn’t be ours. We have to impose our will on people when it comes to rebounding.”
Indeed, with a frontcourt that includes 6-7 Ethan Marmie and 6-8 Michael Chambers, there’s no reason for the Bulldogs to lose the battle of the boards on a given night.
“If you rebound and play good defense, you can outlet and play fun basketball,” Tate said.
That’s exactly what the Bulldogs did in winning the consolation bracket of the Gilroy Tournament. After the loss to Aptos, Sobrato whipped Evergreen Valley 76-38 and Monte Vista Christian, 52-30. Against Evergreen Valley—which happens to play in the same division as Sobrato—the Bulldogs showed no mercy, totaling 49 points in the first half alone en route to the blowout victory.
Senior wing Jayden Fowler erupted for a career-high 33 points, hitting five 3-pointers in the process. Fowler’s outside jumper was on point and he attacked the rim throughout. Fowler has made a dramatic improvement since the Covid spring season, developing in all aspects of the game.
Marmie had 14 points, Marc Difrancesco finished with 10 and Chambers and Andrew Zorio had eight points each.
“All those guys are capable of having big nights,” Tate said.
Marmie, who was a first-team all-league player last season, stays near the paint on defense, but on offense he’s likely to be straddling the 3-point line because of his ability to knock down shots from long range. Both Marmie and Chambers will need to be strong on the glass for the team to reach its potential.
They alter countless shots during a game, which plays a huge role in the team’s defense. The Bulldogs have capable ball-handlers with Zorio leading the way at point guard and junior Kalvin Chak providing valuable minutes off the bench.
Zorio and Difrancesco can create their own shot—whether it’s a jumper off the dribble or taking it to the basket—and senior forward Quinton Watson excels on the boards and defensively. Tate was satisfied the team rebounded with a lopsided win over Evergreen Valley a day after getting run off the floor against Aptos.
“We played only two quarters against Aptos, the second and third,” Tate said. “We’re not going to beat eighth-grade girls teams if we’re not going to play four quarters of basketball. Being that we played Aptos in our second game of the season, that was like jumping in the deep end of the pool. We were going to sink or swim and we sank. (Against Evergreen Valley) we had our little floaty on and we were much better.”
Sobrato’s ability to get up and down the floor was on full display against Evergreen Valley, as it scored a third of its points via the fast break. That all starts with playing tough defense and rebounding, and once league play begins, the Bulldogs will have to contend with a couple of teams that excel with full-court pressure.
Entering the week, only Oak Grove, Santa Teresa and Sobrato had winning records of the six Santa Teresa East Division teams. However, Tate said squads like Evergreen Valley (2-7) and Live Oak (2-4) are still a tough out, not to mention Santa Teresa (4-2) and Oak Grove (4-1).
“There are no cakewalks in our league,” he said. “We’re capable of winning, but every night we’re playing with a target on our back, and you have to go out and play games like this: start early and play four quarters. And if we do that, good things will happen.”
Sports editor Emanuel Lee can be reached at [email protected] and (831) 886-0471,