Simi's surge: The Flames as a team had a rough go at it in the first quarter, trailing 18-5 to the visiting Trojans.
No one had a more frustrating start than Benny Simi.
He http://www.lodinews.com/sports/article_83622f34-2e0d-5a87-9079-d6c97265291c.html"> has shown the ability to take over games this season, but after recording Lodi's opening bucket on Friday, the junior forward simply disappeared, going scoreless for the rest of the half.
At halftime, though, something clicked.
Simi came out determined and aggressive, scoring on four consecutive possessions. The result: Lodi pulled to within 36-33 after trailing at the break by eight.
"My assistant coach said, 'Well, coach, what did you say to Benny?' I said, 'I didn't say anything.'" Flames coach Dave Nutting said. "He just decided to play. And that's high school kids. They can have a good quarter, a good half. Sometimes they don't."
For Simi, the third quarter was excellent. He attacked inside from the get-go, turning a nifty pass from Jordan Belasco into a point-blank shot. Then, he pumped-faked his defender and drove hard to draw a trip to the line.
And after making a pair of free throws one possession later, Simi wrapped up an offensive rebound with one arm, put the ball back in and set up a three-point play. His free-throw line runner tied the game at 40-40 with just over two minutes left in the period.
"I just got to think of the next play when that kind of (slump) happens," said Simi, who scored 10 in the third and finished with 13. "Just keep my head up and keep playing."
Did he ever.
Give them the green light: When the 3s weren't falling early for the Flames, their shooters could have become gun-shy. They could have slowed their triggers.
Not a chance.
"Me, Anthony (Gonsalves) and a couple other guys ... Jordan (Belasco) and Colton (Machado), we get the green light," sniper Pini Silva said.
"We get the green light to pull up whenever. If you just keep pulling and pulling and they don't fall, you got to change something up. But they started falling for me and Anthony, so we just kept shooting and shooting."
True to his word, Lodi never lost its confidence, going on to connect 10 times from beyond the arc.
The best example was midway through the second quarter, when Silva -- who had only sunk one shot at that point -- dribbled quickly up to the left wing. Lodi wasn't running its offense, so he fired away from a different area code.
The shot scorched the net, the home crowd went nuts, and the Flames had finally found their range.