By Keith Peters
Palo Alto Online Sports
Holding the 2011 Central Coast Section Division V championship trophy provided special meaning to Pinewood boys' basketball coach Jason Peery on Saturday. That's probably because he held something similar as a player back in 1987.
Peery helped Pinewood win a section title that year before finishing out his prep career with runnerup finishes in 1988 and '89.
Pinewood won again in 1992 and again in '96, but then went through a long drought until the Panthers held off Mid-Peninsula, 71-66, in the Division V finals at Santa Clara University's Leavey Center.
"This is the first time in 15 years that our guys have done this," Peery said.
So now Peery has enjoyed being a section champ as a player and a coach.
"It's great winning both," Peery said when asked which title was better. "But, it might be better as a coach because you realize how much work goes into it."
Top-seeded Pinewood (22-5) put plenty of work into its title on Saturday against No. 3 Mid-Peninsula (21-3), which had one of the more dynamic players in the CCS in 6-foot-2 senior forward Lydell Cardwell. All Cardwell did was pour in 35 points and grab nine rebounds while keeping the feisty Dragons in the game until the very end.
"Lydell is a fantastic player," Peery said. "But, today Solomone Wolfgramm was the best player on the floor."
Wolfgramm, a 6-foot-3 junior who plays the post like he was five inches taller, went for 21 points and 21 rebounds in arguably the finest game of his prep career. He had eight offensive rebounds as the Panthers out-rebounded the Dragons, 56-25.
Pinewood trailed at the half, 32-30, and was still behind at 49-44 entering the fourth quarter. Wolfgramm, however, heeded Peery's advice.
"My coach kept on telling our bigs, just keep crashing, crashing, crashing. Be aggressive."
Pinewood did just that in the fourth quarter with 27 points.
"We played better as a team in the fourth quarter," Wolfgramm said. "We were more unselfish, and just kept swining the ball around (Mid-Peninsula's 2-3 zone)."
Pinewood finally overhauled Mid-Peninsula and took the lead for good at 53-52 on a fastbreak layup by senior Kyle Riches, who finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. Wolfgramm gave the Panthers their biggest lead (eight points) at 63-55 when he followed in a teammate's miss with a rim-rattling dunk.
The Dragons fought back behind a three-point play by Cardwell and two running shots by fellow senior Reggie Williams, the second of which trimmed Pinewood's lead to 65-64 with 1:22 left to play.
Pinewood came down and missed a shot, with Mid-Peninsula rebounding, but the outlet pass was stolen by Pinewood junior Cameron Helvey, who took it in for a layup and 67-64 lead. Cardwell then missed the front end of a one-and-one situation and the Dragons had to foul.
Pinewood junior John Bennett went to the line twice in the final 34 seconds, sinking all four free throws -- sandwiched around a layup by Cardwell -- to give his team a 71-66 lead with 21.1 seconds remaining. At that point, it was too late for the Dragons, who were hoping to win the first section title -- in any sport – in school history.
"I'm proud of my kids," said Mid-Pen coach Curtis Haggins. "People said we weren't even supposed to be here, that we were going to get blown out. We lost by five, but it was a 1-2 point game. We just ran out of time."
Haggins said earlier in the week that his team had to rebound and keep Wolfgramm off the boards. The Dragons, however, did neither. Free throws also killed Mid-Peninsula's hopes. The Dragons made six of 13 while Pinewood converted 15 of 19. That, and the rebounding, made the difference.
Both teams will advance to the CIF NorCal playoffs, which start Tuesday. Mid-Peninsula received the No. 8 seed and will play Tuesday against No. 9 Ripon Christian (24-6) at Kezar Pavilion in San Francisco at 7:30 p.m. Pinewood has a bye until Thursday, when the Panthers host either No. 7 Bradshaw Christian (21-8) or No. 10 Head Royce (21-7).
CCS Division V Championship
At Leavey Center, Santa Clara University
Mid-Peninsula 18 14 17 17 -- 66
Pinewood 13 17 14 27 -- 71
Mid-Pen – Williams 4 0-3 8, Aiken 1 0-0 2, Seyer 6 0-0 12, Briggs 3 3-6 9, Cardwell 13 6-8 35. Totals: 27 6-13 66.
Pinewood – Bennett 0 4-4 4, Fraioli 4 0-0 11, Helvey 4 1-2 9, Riches 7 4-5 18, B. Naumann 0 0-0 0, Sweat 0 0-0 0, Wolfgramm 8 5-7 21, Sundaresan 3 1-1 8. Totals: 26 15-19 71.
Three-point goals: Briggs 3, Cardwell 3 (MP); Fraioli 3, Sundaresan (P)
Records: Mid-Peninsula 21-3; Pinewood 22-5