Dave Nobis looked as if hed just endured a night of mixed emotions. He was completely spent, courtesy of a rigorous night of basketball.
And hes a coach.
Nobis exhaled in soaking up his Del Campo High School teams gritty 69-65 victory over visiting Burbank in a Sac-Joaquin Section Division II playoff opener that was every bit as good as expected Wednesday night.
The D-II field is so deep and formidable the 10th-seeded Titans had the seventh-seeded Cougars, rolling of late, on the ropes, no surprise given the intensity and talent on hand. Del Campo prevailed because eight players scored, because it drew four charges and because it made stops when it absolutely had to.
This is the sort of game that well look back in mid-April and appreciate, but right now, its a grind, said Nobis, in his 12th season guiding the Cougars and leading perhaps his finest team. Were not perfect, but we play hard. Its a fun team to coach and be around.
Del Campo has a star in Vasilije Saraba, a 6-foot-6 senior wing who has as impressive a skill set as anyone in the section. He can dribble, drive, pass, run the floor and score. And he can score in bunches in taking apart defenses designed to stall him.
Saraba had 23 points, hitting runners and bombs, and set up teammates. He also had 10 rebounds. But what will separate the Cougars (25-3) from here is their support crew, which held its own when Saraba sat out much of the third quarter in foul trouble against the quicker Titans.
Without Saraba, Del Campo stretched a 43-42 lead to 52-42 behind guards Preston Semkiw, Joe Ramirez and others. Del Campo led 55-48 after three and held on from there. Romeo Lopez epitomized Del Campos effort when he drew a late charge and left the game for a moment to collect his bearings and see how fat his lip had suddenly become after face-planting the court.
Ramirez and Brooks Carroll had 11 points each, Ish Oganesyan nine and Braxton Knox five for the Cougars, who have won 13 consecutive games and 19 of 20. Friday, they visit second-seeded Del Oro, which beat Del Campo 64-49 on Dec. 17.
Were not just Saraba, Nobis said of his team. Weve got so many guys, and they step up. Saraba gets the box-and-one defense, all kinds of things, and guys have to step up. They have. But Saraba does have a great skill set. I dont think we appreciate him enough.
Saraba certainly appreciates his teammates.
We have a great support crew of teammates, he said. We couldnt do this without everyone. We can be a great team. The guys really picked me up when I got in foul trouble. We got better.
The Cougars withstood the tenacity of Jalen Coates, Burbanks standout senior floor leader and the Metropolitan Conference MVP. Coates had 22 points, including a three-pointer as time ran out. Fellow guard Charles Mills scored 16 for the Titans (20-8).
Follow The Bees Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.