Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pregame: Brownsville (7-2, 12-4) at California (9-0, 14-2), 7:30 p.m.

Finally, right? A basketball game to cover. Been looking forward to this one, for sure. Back to the pregame note routine.

Last meeting: Trojans earned a 51-49 (OT) victory at Brownsville on Dec. 20, 2012. Tanner Huffman was held to 12 points, though eight came after halftime. Brian Fisher led the way with 18 points, three assists and nine rebounds.

Trojans shot 44 percent from the field (20 of 45) and five of 15 from three-point range. They committed 20 turnovers. Brownsville had a 45-37 lead, but California put together a 10-0 run to pull ahead, 47-45, before Mike Murdock made two three throws to send it into overtime.

Coaches: Brownsville is coached by Brian Brashear; California is led by Phil Pergola, he of 43 seasons and 575 wins.

Last time out: California cruised to a 74-41 win at Frazier in Section 5-AA action, getting 28 points from Huffman, 19 from Fisher.

Brownsville had five players in double figures during a 78-65 win at Jefferson-Morgan, also in section play. Cole Novotney had 16 points, including four three-pointers, 11 of those points in the fourth quarter; Tre Durkin, Josh Mapstone and Murdock finished with 13 apiece; and Jacob Bevard contributed 10, as the Falcons made 30 field goals and led, 39-26, at halftime.

About the Falcons: Brownsville has been streak this season. Falcons won their first five before the loss to California ignited a four-game losing streak. They're currently on a seven-game winning streak.

Like the Trojans, Brownsville lost in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs last year -- California to Shady Side Academy (59-38), Brownsville to Wilkinsburg (73-53).

About California: Huffman and Fisher are good. Really good. Here's a link to a story about them I did two weeks ago. Huffman is averaging 23.5 points, 5.0 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 4.2 steals per game. Fisher is at 17.9 points, 3.1 assists and 8.6 rebounds per game.

Austin Wingo is contributing 6.4 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game; Evan Patterson, like Huffman and Fisher a senior, is at 6.7 points and 2.1 blocks per game; and Dmitri Clements is helping out with 5.5 points, 4.0 assists and 3.4 steals per game.

Analysis: California would like to have this game. Brownsville needs this game. Lose here, and the Falcons are all but eliminated from the Section 5-AA title race, with two losses to California and one to Charleroi.

Brownsville won't beat the Trojans with their guard play, but they could have advantage with depth; Novotney, Murdock, Durkin, Bevard and Floyd are all contributors, same for Cole's brother, Ryan. Should be telling who has the better bench.

Should be a fast game, too. Trojans are averaging 70.0 points per game, tops in Class A. Brownsville ranks sixth at 66.8 ppg. Don't expect a 41-36 score. (Shoot, California hasn't been under 50 all year.)

Gonna take the Trojans here. There's only one home game left for Huffman, Fisher and Patterson after this -- Beth-Center on Feb. 5 -- and I doubt they're going to allow a letdown to happen here.

See you out there.

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