Aiden Swan of Jewish Community High School takes a shot in the first round of the Division VI CIF NorCal tournament, Feb. 27, 2019 (Photo/Sam Lieberman)
Aiden Swan of Jewish Community High School takes a shot in the first round of the Division VI CIF NorCal tournament, Feb. 27, 2019 (Photo/Sam Lieberman)

JCHS boys basketball wins, moves into NorCal semifinals

The Jewish Community High School of the Bay’s boys basketball team began its pursuit of a Northern California championship with a dominating 59-39 win over Vacaville Christian last night at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco.

By winning in the first round of the Division VI CIF NorCal tournament, the Wolves improved to 21-6 (a new school record for wins) and earned a spot in the semifinals on Saturday, March 2. They will play the winner of tonight’s game between No. 2 seed Redding Christian and No. 7 Mendocino. Division VI is for schools with enrollments of fewer than 200 students.

The Wolves are seeded No. 3 in the NorCal tournament, and if they win again on Saturday, they’ll be in the championship game, probably in a revenge matchup against No. 1 seed Cornerstone Christian of Antioch, the same team that beat them 66-53 in the title game of the Division VI North Coast Section playoffs a week ago.

JCHS was in fine form Feb. 27 in the nearly century-old Kezar arena. After surrendering the first basket to Vacaville Christian, JCHS went on a 11-0 run, fueled by two jump shots and a layup by 6-foot-4 senior Toby Holm. The early 11-2 advantage settled into a 17-10 lead after the first quarter, and the Wolves never looked back. After another hot stretch (a 10-0 run) in the second quarter, they led 31-16 at halftime.

Holm finished with a game-high 27 points, of which eight came in the first quarter.

“The team did a good job of spreading the floor and knocking down shots,” Holm told a reporter for the Vacaville Register after the game. “From there I was able to get a lot of one-on-one coverage, and once my mid-range shot started falling, everything else fell into place, as well.”

The visiting Falcons played a good third quarter and got to within 11 points, but JCHS guard Aidan Swan began the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, a field goal and two free throws to put the Wolves firmly in the driver’s seat.

JCHS coach Jon Shogan was quoted after the game as saying that Vacaville Christian, which started the season 0-8 but was coming off a victory in the Sac-Joaquin Section’s Division VI championship game, was a “quality opponent” and “didn’t make things easy for us.” The sixth-seeded Falcons finished their season with a 14-17 record.

“We’ve lost a few leads this year and I feel like we sometimes sit on our leads too much,” Shogan said in the San Francisco Examiner. “Tonight, though, the kids kept scoring and and it wasn’t through plays that I called. It was fun to watch. I felt like a spectator at times.”

If Redding Christian wins its first-round game tonight, JCHS will be looking at the Saturday semifinal matchup in Redding as a chance for revenge, having lost 43-35 to the very same Lions in the first round of last year’s NorCal playoffs. However, evidence suggests JCHS has a better squad this year, as the Wolves were given the No. 3 seed among the eight teams in the tournament as opposed to No. 7 last year. The semifinal game is scheduled for 6 p.m.

“Our guys are hungry,” Shogan said in the Examiner. “We lost up in Redding last year. We played up there. These guys are ready for anything.”