LODI — Someone at Orestimba High School didn't read the Sac-Joaquin Section memo, or at least the part of it that requires teams to bring their own warm-up basketballs to neutral-site playoff contests.
So there were the Warriors, riding a 13-game win streak into the Division IV semifinals, standing around during the warmup session while Colfax was well into its pregame routine at the other end of the floor.
Losing five minutes of the half-hour prep time before Amador High volunteered the use of its basketballs probably didn't make a difference in the outcome, but it did get the Warriors' night off to a rocky start.
And the game itself provided few smooth moments, as Colfax advanced to the section title game with an 87-59 victory at Tokay High behind the 40 points of junior forward Scott Krizman — the second-most points in section playoff history.
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"It was a good thing Amador let us borrow a couple balls, but that was after Bear River turned us down," said Orestimba coach Rob Pecot. "We'll know for next time. I guess now I have to root for Amador over Colfax in the section final."
Warrior heads were draped with towels to hide the team's disappointment, but Orestimba (26-5) knew it was a decisive underdog against the top-seeded Falcons (28-1), who will meet Amador at ARCO Arena on Saturday at 3 p.m.
"It's tough, but they're a very good team," said senior Terrance Marin, who led the Warriors with 20 points. "We played with our hearts and gave it all we could, and that's all that matters."
The Warriors threw every wrinkle they had at Colfax, opening in a modified box-and-one defense, with their point guard chasing the ball from side-to-side. But the Falcons, with a decisive height advantage, threw over the zone and got easy baskets from players slashing down the lane.
More often than not, that player was Krizman, who had 21 points by halftime as Colfax took a 36-20 lead, added nine more in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth. He left the game with 3:34 remaining, just four points off the all-time section playoff record of 44 set by Elk Grove's Bill Cartwright in 1975.
"Someone told me he had 40 and was close to the record, but it didn't really matter," said Colfax coach Ron Pucci. "We were up by a good margin and we needed to get him out and get him ready for the next game."
Krizman had 11 points during a flawless 21-5 scoring run that gave the Falcons a 31-12 lead three minutes into the second quarter, but the Warriors kept scrapping.
A half-court trap resulted in several Colfax turnovers and fueled an 8-2 run that briefly cut the gap to 33-20, but Colfax built its lead back to 20 points within the opening two minutes of the third quarter.
"We can get away with the press for a little while, but it's hard to sustain," Pecot said. "They called one timeout, made an adjustment, and they were off. We know we can't play man-to-man against them. Shoot, we can't play zone against them either. So in that case we had to pick our poison."
It wasn't close at the end, but within a few days Orestimba will be able to start looking back with fondness on a season that brought the school its first league basketball title since 1948.
"At the start of the season I would have taken this," Marin said. "It's great to have come this far with a team like this and have all my friends around. There's nothing more I could have asked for."
Except, perhaps, a few familiar basketballs in a duffel bag.
"We always bring our own basketballs, no matter where we go," Pucci said. "We've been down this road before."