March 14, 2012West Coast Hoops
No, the secret was to somehow get 6-foot-10 Ribet center Idrissa Diallo out of the way.
Gerrick Uneau and Jessy Cantinol got that job done. The pair attacked the sophomore center, drew fouls and got him permanently to the bench. It cleared the way for a 75-59 victory and a berth Saturday in the Southern California Div. V regional final.
"We wanted to contain him and attack him," said Cooke, whose team missed six free-throw attempts in a 57-56 loss Feb. 7 to the Fighting Frogs.
"Once we got his third (foul), we kept going at him."
The Wildcats (27-6) will play Village Christian (31-3) at Colony High in Ontario at 3p.m. Saturday. The Crusaders defeated top-seeded St.Bernard 75-65.
Uneau, giving up 4 inches on Diallo, traded pushes with the big man inside and harassed his shot attempts, holding him to 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting, all the points coming in the first half.
"He wasn't that easy to guard," Uneau said. "He is that good. He had 22 on me last time. We had to stop him. I worked on it all week so we could win the game."
Diallo picked up his third foul 2:55 into the third quarter when he tried to block a Cantinol shot. Cantinol made both free throws for a 37-33 lead.
He picked up his fourth foul with 31 seconds remaining in the quarter,
again trying to stop Cantinol. He again made both foul shots to extend the lead to 48-37.
"We just kept going to the basket," Cantinol said.
Ribet coach William Middlebrooks had to rely on a smaller unit to keep the game close, but when Cantinol started the fourth quarter with a layup and then a dunk for a 59-45 lead, he had to put Diallo back in with 5:06 to play.
Less than two minutes later, he was gone for good.
"We were pretty confidence when he went out," Uneau said. "Then, anybody could get rebounds. We had to go hard to try and foul him out."
Uneau was fouled by Diallo as he went for a layup with 3:39 left. Diallo threw the ball at the wall, drawing a technical foul. The Wildcats missed three of the four free-throw attempts, but Rick Hilaire, who had a 16 points, scored off the inbound possession for a 64-51 lead.
That forced the Frogs (21-11) to rely on Tyler Dorsey, who had a game-high 24 points.
"It hurt us a lot," Dorsey said of the loss of Diallo. "They came back at us wanting revenge. We did not come out ready. Our coaches told us to come out ready and we didn't."
Dorsey hit back-to-back 3-pointers to close the gap to 65-57 with 2:36 to play, as Cooke nervously paced the sidelines.
"Every possession counted," Cooke said. "The last game we missed six free throws and had two crucial turnovers. I wasn't going to let them lose this one. If we lost, it was because I threw everything at them and they're the better team."