Who: Liberty Ranch vs. Half Moon Bay.
What: First round of the CIF State Championships’ NorCal Regional.
When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
Where: Liberty Ranch High School.
Half Moon Bay at a glance
Record: 22-7 overall
Coach: Rich Forslund
How they got here: The Cougars placed third overall in the Peninsula Athletic League-North with an 8-4 mark, before finishing as the Central Coast Section Division IV runner-up. During the section playoffs, they beat Sacred Heart Prep and Seaside before falling to Menlo, 46-41, in the final.
Players of note: Half Moon Bay is led by 5-foot-8 junior guard Corey Cilia, who averages 13.4 points per game and is a 44-percent 3-point shooter. Fellow junior Rico Nuno, a 6-foot-6, 250-pound power forward, is second on the team with 9.8 ppg and is shooting nearly 56-percent from the floor.
The Cougars will also have tallest player on the floor, by far, in center Owen Putz. The 6-foot-10 senior is Half Moon Bay’s fourth-leading scorer at 5.1 ppg.
What to watch for
In the zone: Summerville frustrated the Hawks in Saturday’s final with an effective zone defense. Anchored by their long-armed defenders, the Bears took away penetration and forced outside jumpers — not exactly the Hawks’ strong suit as a team, outside of Michael Meserole and DeAndre Stallings.
Will the Cougars try the same tactic?
And if so, how will Liberty Ranch respond this time?
Foul trouble: Against Summerville and Colfax, the Hawks’ big early leads dwindled in the second quarter after Stallings and Matt Thomas both sat with two early fouls. Liberty Ranch’s bench played admirably for those long stretches — against Colfax, the team never trailed in regulation. Still, the drop-off on offense was substantial without those two starters and the Hawks could not add their advantage on Saturday. The team, then, must be aggressive but mindful on defense.
Bang the boards: Liberty Ranch was outrebounded 24-16 in the second half by Summerville, after playing the Bears pretty much evenly in the first 16 minutes.
For an undersized team like the Hawks, controlling the boards is the biggest key to victory in every game.
Follow on twitter
We’ll be giving live updates, scores and stats from Wednesday’s game against Half Moon Bay. Follow along at @LodiSports