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'Miracle at Mitty' remains fresh in their minds

After last year's comeback, Woodcreek knows Monarchs are gunning for them in NorCal final
By: Bill Poindexter/Roseville Press Tribune Sports Editor
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It’s known at Woodcreek High School as the “Miracle at Mitty.”

The Timberwolves traveled to San Jose last March to play Archbishop Mitty in the CIF Northern California Regional Division II semifinals, and for three quarters, the top-seeded Monarchs rolled. Mitty led by eight at halftime and 10 going into the final period.

But Woodcreek stormed back, sent the game into overtime and won 91-83.

“They were beating us pretty good,” Woodcreek senior Jamie Geyer said. “We rallied in their place, hostile environment, won in overtime. So they probably got a chip on their shoulder, and they’re probably ready to play us.”

A year later, 10th-seeded Woodcreek (28-5) and No. 1 Mitty (30-2) meet again, this time for the NorCal Division II championship at 4 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at Power Balance Pavilion.

Aaron Gordon should be ready. Gordon was a gangly 6-foot-6, 175-pound freshman on Mitty’s team last season. Today, the younger brother of college star Drew Gordon is an inch taller, 20 pounds heavier and the Monarchs’ main man.

The West Catholic Athletic League Player of the Year had 20 points, 19 rebounds and six blocked shots for Mitty in a 70-61 victory over Las Lomas last Saturday in the other semifinal. He’s already a top college prospect.

“He fills up the (stat) sheet, that’s for sure,” said Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News, who covered last Saturday’s Mitty-Las Lomas game. “Typical game for him is about 18 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and a couple of dunks. He’s extremely athletic.”

Pavlovic said Gordon is double and triple teamed in every game. Teammate Kyle Toth sees several open shots as a result. He made six three-pointers against Las Lomas. Toth was a first-team All-WCAL selection.

“He’s one of the best shooters in our section,” Pavlovic said.

Pavlovic described point guard Colin Wan as “lightning fast” and a good defender, and Neil Vranicar is Mitty’s “banger” underneath.

“They’re not very deep, but they don’t really need to be because Aaron is such a force,” Pavlovic said of the Monarchs, who are “very, very well coached” by Tim Kennedy.

Woodcreek coach Paul Hayes remembered last season’s comeback at Mitty. The head coach of the JV Timberwolves at the time, he and his wife drove to San Jose and had lunch with a relative before witnessing the comeback. The Timberwolves went on to lose to St. Francis of Mountain View 48-47 in the NorCal final.

Two weeks ago, after losing to Antelope in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II semifinals, Woodcreek drew St. Francis on the road to start the NorCal playoffs.

“I told them you’re going to have to get three road games,” Hayes said.

And the Timberwolves came through each time. They edged St. Francis 55-54 on March 8, followed with a 58-52 victory over No. 2 Montgomery on March 10 in Santa Rosa and then avenged their loss to Antelope with a 58-39 blowout last Saturday.

“It’s tremendous,” Hayes said of Woodcreek’s run. “Three hours to St. Francis. Storied history. It always takes a little bit out of you riding that bus there, and they did a great job. Another 2½, three hours to Santa Rosa, all that traffic and stuff, and a huge, huge, huge, huge crowd. We got there at (5:40 p.m.), and they were already filling the bleachers, so the kids withstood that."

And then came Antelope, just up the road and within the Roseville Joint Union High School District.

“While this was a road game, it sure felt like a little more home to us,” Hayes said.

Now, the shoe is on the other foot with Mitty gunning for Woodcreek. But the Timberwolves have plenty to play for as well, as Geyer pointed out.

“We all know we didn’t take care of business last time we got (to Power Balance Pavilion). We really want another chance,” he said. “We were so close last year to the championship, and we’d love to seal the deal and see what it feels like to be NorCal champs.”

CIF NORTHERN CALIFORNIA REGIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP GAMES
Advance tickets:
On sale at the Power Balance Pavilion box office and
TicketMaster. Tickets may be purchased on game day at Power Balance Pavilion.
Ticket prices (per session): Adult general admission: $16; seniors (65 and over with ID), $10; high school students (with ID), $10; children, $10; Kings Row I, $45; Kings Row II, $40; courtside (rows AA-EE), $20.
Parking: $12 at Power Balance Pavilion.

Today’s schedule
At Power Balance Pavilion
Division III girls:
No. 1 Oakland-Bishop O’Dowd (24-7) vs. No. 2 Sacramento (28-5), 10 a.m.
Division III boys: No. 4 El Cerrito (25-7) vs. No. 6 Oakland-Bishop O’Dowd (25-6), noon.
Division II girls: No. 1 Stockton-St. Mary’s (27-2) vs. No. 3 Del Oro (27-4), 2 p.m.
Division II boys: No. 1 San Jose-Archbishop Mitty (30-2) vs. No. 10 Woodcreek (28-5), 4 p.m.
Division I girls: No. 1 Berkeley (30-1) vs. No. 2 Concord-Carondelet (28-4), 6 p.m.
Division I boys: No. 1 Castro Valley (30-1) vs. No. 2 De La Salle (26-5), 8 p.m. Saturday.
At Folsom High School
Division V girls:
No. 1 Los Altos Hills-Pinewood (26-5) vs. No. 3 Alameda-St. Joseph Notre Dame (25-4), 1 p.m.
Division V boys: No. 1 Alameda-St. Joseph Notre Dame (25-8) vs. No. 3 San Francisco-University (28-6), 3 p.m.
Division IV girls: No. 1 Berkeley-St. Mary’s (29-4) vs. No. 2 Modesto Christian (25-8), 5 p.m.
Division IV boys: No. 1 Richmond-Salesian (24-11) vs. No. 2 Berkeley-St. Mary’s (23-10), 7 p.m.