Ultimately, this game went as expected. We said it would be a 2-3 possession game throughout, and that’s what it was. We said an offensive output similar to what they had against Amity could sink Dayton‘s ship, and ultimately, it did.
Here are some thoughts on Tonight’s game:
- In certain situations you can see a team losing a game rather than a team winning a game. It’s not overly rare in high school basketball for a team to let opportunity slip through their fingers or clinch defeat from the jaws of victory, rather than the victor “winning.” Even as this is being written, having had proper time to digest the game that just happened, I’m tossing and turning over whether this can be used.
- De La Salle forced 15 turnovers and ultimately kept the pace in their favor for most of the game. This doesn’t happen by accident; rather, it is a testament to what De La Salle can pull off in the press for which they’ve become so famous. However, I am again caught by the visual cues, the motion of the game that told a story less of De La Salle’s pressure and more of Dayton’s limitations. As we’ve written multiple times in the past, Dayton’s biggest problem is their depth and lack of a true star. As much as Dawson Ashley and Tyler Spink are fantastic talents and phenomenal basketball minds, when compared to the legends of Dayton past, a contrast is clear. This raises the question: was it the pressure, or was it an inevitable breakdown? Was it both? Where does credit or blame lie?
- The second reason is this was probably the best free throw-shooting game we’ve seen from De La Salle this season. When they needed to hit their free throws, they did. Conversely, Dayton had one of their more poor performances at the stripe, seemingly always missing at the moments where momentum was most in the balance. Is this a sign of a bigger theme or just dumb luck?
- Reason number three is probably the biggest: this game had two phases. The first took place in the first quarter and early second, and the second phase ran throughout roughly the final 20 minutes. Rarely can it be said that a referee crew has significant impact on the outcome of the game, as much as some fan bases would like to argue otherwise, but in this instance, as in most instances with De La Salle, the Zebra’s played a significant role. Early in the game, De La Salle was being called for every foul they would not normally be called for if the game were played in Portland. It’s something that can’t be quantified but is generally agreed to that Portland area basketball, and specifically Lewis and Clark League basketball, is officiated differently than the rest of the state. Part of the secret sauce to De La Salle’s success in the last decade has been their hyper-aggression defensively, which seemingly always breaks down officiating crews, who then swallow their whistles. We aren’t making a judgment on whether the Knights play over the line, or whether the referee crew tonight made ill-judgments, because that’s not the point nor is it our place. However, it would be a mistake to ignore the distinct two-phase nature to this game: there was a clear difference in the way the game was being played after the first quarter. To put it bluntly: De La Salle started gaining momentum and got their footing, and from that point any hopes of a consistent Dayton offensive rhythm went out the window. We are left wondering whether the result would’ve been drastically different if the game had been played as it was in the first phase for a full 32 minutes. If De La Salle’s hyper-aggressive style of play were governed as tightly as it was in the initial 8 minutes, Dayton would’ve lived at the free throw line. Nevertheless, the Knights stayed the course, and their style won out. That’s a testament to their perseverance and patience, and it truly deserves a tip of the cap.
- It would be a lie to say our opinion of De La Salle has done a complete 180°, but it is fair to say we misjudged them to some degree. Dayton being the least purely talented of the three potential PacWest playoff teams they were the most beatable, but regardless, what De La Salle did tonight undoubtedly subverted our expectations in certain areas. If they play on Thursday like they did tonight, they could end up in their fourth state title game in five years.
Credit to De La Salle where credit is due: Knight Time lives on.
Photos taken by Mid-Major Media contributor and owner of LHannDowns.com, Logan Hannigan-Downs. Full Album: https://www.dsl-vs-dayton.lhanndowns.com/
A short public service announcement to spectators in general, though tonight put a newfound emphasis on it: the players and coaches deserve better than cross-court shouting matches emanating from the bleachers. It’s uncivil and unbecoming of the communities you represent. Please, be better.