Nathan Mollat/Daily Journal
Burlingame’s Justin Gutang slashes to the basket to score two of his 10 points during the
Panthers’ 76-55 win over visiting Hillsdale Wednesday night.
It appears the only Peninsula Athletic League South Division team capable of beating the Burlingame boys’ basketball team is the Panthers themselves.
Because the rest of the PAL hasn’t figured out how to beat the Panthers. Burlingame jumped out to a 10-0 lead against visiting Hillsdale Wednesday night and were never threatened as they cruised to a 76-55 victory over the Knights.
So how does coach Peter Harames keep his team sharp?
“We try to have tough practices,” Harames said.
Those practices have honed Burlingame (9-0 PAL South, 18-3 overall) into an efficient, lethal basketball machine. Watching the Panthers is like watching a luxury sports car run through its gears. First and second gear is getting center Nick Loew involved in the offense early. Loew responded with 11 of his 24 points and seven of his game-high 17 rebounds in the first quarter alone.
Once Loew is humming along offensively, the Panthers shift into third gear with point guard Frankie Ferrari. As the defense sags to deal with the 6-8 Loew, Ferrari steps up and unleashes long-distance bombs and slashing drives to the basket.
Ferrari scored 25 of his 29 points in the first half.
Once Loew and Ferrari get in a groove, its time for Burlingame to put it fourth gear and pull away from the opposition. Fourth gear is wing player Justin Gutang, who finished with 10 points, and the rest of the Burlingame squad.
“I love that,” Harames said. “I like to see that.”
Wednesday’s game against Hillsdale (5-4, 11-10) was all but over after the first quarter. Burlingame started the game with a 10-0 run over the first 3:08 of the first quarter and kept the pedal to the metal. Loew and Ferrari took turns gashing the Knights defense in the first eight minutes, with Loew throwing down two big dunks as the Panthers finished the opening period with a 26-9 lead.
Even Harames said he sometimes gets caught watching his team run its offense to near perfection. He said he’ll let the Panthers run up and down the court, knocking down shots,” Until you see something (to tell you otherwise),” Harames said.
It was more of the same in the second quarter as the Panthers’ onslaught continued with another 26-point period. In addition to Loew and Ferrari combining for 14 points in the second quarter, Gutang finally got involved, scoring eight of his 10 points as Burlingame pushed its lead to 52-17 at halftime.
Hillsdale, meanwhile, could not manage much offensively in the first half. Justin Ono finally broke the seal on the Knights’ basket when he knocked down a jumper with 3:45 to play in the first quarter.
But points were few and far between for Hillsdale.
To put in perspective, Hillsdale scored one less point in the third quarter (16) than the Knights did in the first half (17).
The Panthers also did a good job neutralizing Hillsdale’s Brian Houle, who came into the game averaging nearly 20 a points per game in PAL play.
Wednesday night, Houle finished with 17 points, but only four points in the first half.
Harames said he didn’t do anything special defensively to contain Houle.
“We just tried to deny (him getting the ball),” Harames said. “And then brought help.”
With Houle all but locked down most of the game, Ryan Nurre tried to pick up the offensive slack, finishing with a team-high 26 points.
Credit Hillsdale, however, for coming out and playing much better in the second half. While the fourth quarter was mostly about the reserves for Burlingame — with the Knights outscoring them 20-5 over the final eight minutes — the third quarter showed that when Hillsdale is on their game, the Knights can hang with the Panthers.
In the third quarter, Hillsdale opened with a 9-0 run, forcing Burlingame to take an early timeout.
The Panthers responded with a 12-0 run, as they pushed their lead to 64-28. The last three-plus minutes of the quarter saw both teams go right at each other. When the quarter buzzer sounded, Hillsdale was only outscored 19-16 for the period.
But that is the biggest difference between Burlingame, Hillsdale and the rest of the PAL South. Nearly every team can keep pace with the Panthers for a quarter, but not over the course of four quarters.
“I think (our offensive) barrage is pretty relentless,” Harames said.