Men’s Basketball Playoff Preview: Foothill Owls and Santa Rosa Roscos Prepare for State Elite 8

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The Foothill Owls are coming in hot after a play off game victory against the Butte Roadrunners 70-68 and are now off to the next round where they will face the Santa Rosa Roscos. The game is scheduled for Saturday, March 3rd, at 7:00 pm at Santa Rosa Junior College. Here are three things to look out for in this high stakes matchup.

  1. The powers of four

In their first playoff game this year, both teams had four players score double digit figures. The Owls had Matt McAndrews, Alex Gil-Fernandez, Joe Pittochi, and Chris Russell score 15, 19, 11, and 10 respectively, while the Roscos had Jordan Graves, Sadik Sufi, Skylar Chavez, and Trey Pugh score 16, 18, 23, and 12. Expect both teams to rely on these four core players heavily in an effort to overpower their opponent. These core players are exceptionally important because the teams are approximate mirror images of each other — both teams are averaging approximately 78 points, 46% shooting, 37.5% 3-point shooting, 70% free throw shooting, 33 rebounds, and 17 assists per game over the course of the season. This means that if one squad can gain the momentum, it will be hard for the other team to find a way to fight back.

  1. The new kids on the block

In all team sports, there are always going to be roster changes as new players come in and old players depart. Rarely do we see a new player — a rookie —  come in and take on the role of a leader. Both the Owls and the Roscos have uncovered these kinds of gems with the surprising emergence of Matt McAndrews for the Owls, and Skylar Chavez for the Roscos. Both players, although freshmen, led their team in points scored with just under 20 points per game, and both players average similar stats in almost all categories. The biggest difference between these two is McAndrews’ inability to shoot the long ball. McAndrews’ 29.3% shooting from beyond the arc is 16.6% worse than his counterpart, Skylar Chavez, who is shooting a comfortable 45.9% from beyond the arc. The good news for the Owls is that McAndrews makes up for his poor 3-point shooting with certain intangibles, like being the emotional leader of the team — he keeps his teammates spirits high during the low points of matches, and keeps the Owls aimed at victory.

  1. Fighting their inner demons

These two teams met in mid-November where the Owls were obliterated 73-56, and were outperformed in nearly every facet of the game — especially 3-point shooting. The Owls were only down five points at the half, but failed to come out of their locker room inspired to close the gap. When it was all said and done, the Owls only shot a measly 33% from the field and 19% from the arc. In order for them to move to the state finals, they must fight their inner demons  The Owls must not allow a mental block that keeps them afraid of the same kind of defeat to form, and the team must analyze what they did wrong to figure out how to prepare for this coming matchup.