Vikings vanquish Jesuit, set course for Arco Arena

Semifinal matchup with Fairfield awaits
By: Kurt Johnson, The Press Tribune
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By the time reserve forward Eric Marten banked one home from mid-court at the halftime horn, you knew it was going to be a special night at Oakmont High. Riding the energy of a dominating second quarter performance and the electricity of a wound up home crowd, the Vikings earned a measure of respect with an 82-70 win over Jesuit Friday night in the second round of the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoffs. After the teams traded baskets in the first quarter, and went back and forth with a flurry of three-point activity in the second, the Vikings pulled away on the strength of 6-foot-8 center Tony Gill. The senior scored 23 points in the first half, owning the painted area and ripping the nets on a pair of long-range daggers. “Our plan coming in was to pound the ball inside,” Gill said. “It opens everything else up for us.” With 6-6 forward J.T. Adenrele spending much of the game on the bench dealing with foul trouble, it was Marten and starting forward Nathaniel Grady who answered the call for Oakmont coach Rick Campbell. “Eric Marten made some huge plays for us tonight,” Campbell said. “Grady also had a couple of big baskets and played really well. The key to our win tonight was Tony and Freddy (Mobley). They both made all of the plays. We did some good things defensively that helped as well.” Marten played the entire second period and most of the second half in relief of Adenrele, and his seven points before the break were capped by the half-ending three-ball that sent the crowd into hysteria and the Vikings racing to the locker room with a 13-point advantage. “This was as deep on our bench as we have gone in a close game,” Campbell said. “We had some guys step up for us tonight.” In addition to the big guys, junior Cholo Serrano had a moment to remember. After Grady joined Adenrele on the bench with five fouls, Serrano got the call for the first time in the contest. As you would expect from a well-coached squad, Jesuit immediately found the guard and fouled him. Serrano went to the stripe and dropped home the front end of a one-and-one at a time when the Vikings really needed him to score. Jesuit was never able to get closer than eight points in the second half. The Marauders took advantage of Oakmont’s being down a ball-handler due to the absence of Matt Daly, forcing a number of second-half turnovers with their pressure defense, but they were not able to cash in enough to make a serious run. “Alex (Ford) did a good job helping us get the ball up at times,” Campbell said, “but sometimes we did not do a good job coming back to help Fred get the ball up. We left him back there by himself. This was clearly a place were we missed Matt Daly.” The Marauders’ second half defensive strategy to pack in on Gill opened the outside up for Fred Mobley and Alex Ford, and the Oakmont backcourt delivered. Mobley scored 17 after intermission, and Ford added nine following the break. “We have a great group of players and great attitude,” Ford said. “To have a bad game like we had against Woodcreek and come back the way we did is great. We came out firing.” Some might see the Vikings as the wildcard entry in the Division II final four, but the folks at Oakmont are not the least bit surprised. “From day one we knew were would be heading to Arco,” Gill said. “Jesuit is a great team that does a lot of things well, but we have a lot of talent here and we knew we could get this done.” Sophomore Parker Uu was the hot three-point shooter for the Marauders during the first half. He hit a trio of 3-pointers before the break and scored 13 points in the first half on his way to 18 for the game. Senior MacKenzie McCullough scored 16 of his 21 in the second half and sophomore Akachi Okugo added 10 points. There was nothing Jesuit could do to offset the determination of this Oakmont team, backed by the raucous support of its crowd, as the Vikings reached out for a trip to the purple floor at Arco Arena. “Tony told me during the preseason that we were going to Arco,” Campbell said. “This morning, he told me that he still intended to deliver on that promise.” “We had a silent motto early in the season to get to Arco Arena,” Mobley said. “Towards the latter end, I am not going to lie, we really thought we’d get here.” Gill finished the contest with 28 points, 12 rebounds and four assists. Mobley scored 21 points, and added four assists and three steals, while Ford tallied 15 points for Oakmont. Marten delivered seven points and seven boards, and Adenrele pulled down six rebounds while playing just a shade more than 10 minutes before fouling out. “Probably not,” was Campbell’s response when asked if he had been told before the game that Adenrele would spend most of the game on the bench, would he have expected this result? The Vikings (21-6) face top-seeded Fairfield (24-5) Thursday night in the D-II semifinals at Arco Arena. SFL rivals Woodcreek and Rocklin are in the other semifinal. Game times will be announced Saturday afternoon.