By the Numbers
83.5 -- Lodi High's scoring average since losing, 53-51, at Tokay High on Jan. 25. The Flames have gone 8-1 since.
4 -- Number of times Lodi has reached at least 90 points in that span.
32-of-34 -- Flames' free-throw shooting after halftime during their playoff wins over Sac High and Del Oro.
20-of-20 -- Anthony Gonsalves at the line during those wins.
13 -- Number of 3-pointers for Lodi in those wins.
30 -- Total first-quarter points scored by Flames in those wins.
68.5 -- Lodi's scoring average over next three quarters in playoffs.
Three things to watch for Lodi:
1. The Flame Fanatics: Dave Nutting called his school's fans "the best in the section," and after trekking up to Sacramento High, he definitely had a point.
Lodi must have brought an Inferno's worth of supporters out and they were raucous the entire way through -- with the students yelling their now-routine "I BELIEVE THAT WE WILL WIN" chant.
It's no surprise Lodi feels confident, given that level of support.
"The crowd just jumps on and it's like, we're unstoppable," Gonsalves said. "We can't stop. We feel like we stop, we'll let people down."
I'll be interested to see the turnout tonight. I have heard rumors of full-size cardboard cutouts. Stay tuned.
2. The start: Few teams have been able to hold down Lodi's shooters for four full quarters. Lately, the pattern has been:
A slow start, then furious response from the Flames, who have made all the right adjustments so far -- on a big stage, to boot.
"Basketball is along game," Jordan Belasco said after Sac High. "You just got to find your rhythm and once we find it, we're rolling."
Nutting added: "What happens with these guys is, 'What do we need to do?' How are we going to attack? What's our next play?' And I think these guys have bought in. It's not the game, it's that next possession."
How will things go tonight? Can Lodi stay focused and recover again if the team stumbles out of the gate? And if the Flames come out blistering, how will McNair react?
3. Who has the big game? It's a question that not even Nutting can answer night in and night out.
I've seen Brandon Michelucci and Benny Simi dominate Edison inside, Jordan Belasco keep the team in it against Chavez and Pini Silva rain 3-pointers down on Lincoln.
Lodi has had an uncanny ability to find the hot hand when he emerges -- and to keep feeding him.
The Flames have six players with 20-point potential, and it's all predicated on who McNair chooses to take away. My own feeling is that Belasco is due for a big night, and he could make a statement if the game is tight .