MORAGA – The Campolindo boys’ basketball team knows what it takes to compete at the highest level.
Last season, the Aidan Mahaney-led Cougars won the Open Division playoffs of the North Coast Section, the section’s highest level of competition, coming on a missed buzzer-beater of playing for a state championship.
Mahaney graduated and now stars at St. Mary’s, but seniors Logan Robeson and Shane O’Reilly, as well as several other key contributors from that team, remain.
Now the No. 1 seed in the NCS’s Division II playoffs, a quarterfinal home game against Benicia wasn’t something Campolindo’s playoff-tested team couldn’t handle.
The Moraga School rolled to an easy 66-49 win.
“Once we played in the Open, we saw the magnitude of those games,” said Robeson. “Not to say that these games are less, because the size of these games is also large. But it’s a great experience and it doesn’t hurt to have played in that division before.”
The Cougars went down 8–6 three minutes into the first quarter, but quickly retook the lead on a reverse layup by Robeson and a free throw by Clay Naffziger. The Cougars never trailed their league rival again. Campolindo (21-7) was champion of the Diablo Athletic League’s Foothill division, while Benicia (22-6) claimed the lower DAL-Valley crown.
Robeson led all scorers with 25 points and O’Reilly scored 21. Dylan Mansour scored 12 points and made two of Campolindo’s seven 3-pointers.
Jacob French, Darrell Hurd and James Wong each scored 10 points for Benicia. Campolindo led 36–23 at halftime and held a 22-point lead midway through the third quarter.
Campolindo coach Steven Dyer told the Bay Area News Group on Wednesday that the team thought it was Open Division caliber and that Campolindo definitely played like it had a chip on its shoulder.
“The only way you can prove people on the placement committee wrong is to come out and play well,” said Dyer. “We’re stuck with what we need to do, which is get things done and win these games.”
Benicia’s coach Steven Carter could only shake his head at the difficult shots that Campolindo consistently made. Many of Robeson and O’Reilly’s points were scored after converting layups with circus shots and hitting tough jumpers.
“Our season has been good, but today Campolindo just hit shots and you can’t help that,” said Carter.
Campolindo will host No. 5 seed Cardinal Newman on Wednesday. If it wins that game, Campolindo may have a chance to face Las Lomas, who defeated Campolindo 59-39 in the playoff final on February 2.
For now, however, Campolindo’s coach is only focused on the next opponent.
“Surviving and moving forward is what it is now,” Dyer said. “We only have 32 minutes guaranteed.”