In sizing up his Saturday opponent, Mike Wall exhales.
The Folsom High School basketball coach admires the speed, length and efficiency of St. John Bosco, which has three national recruits and heads into Sleep Train Arena looking to derail the Bulldogs 22-game winning streak. But what might the Braves of Bellflower see in Folsom as they prepare for the CIF State Division II championship?
When teams see us, they come to the conclusion that, Wow, weve got to take care of this guy, but another steps up, or another, and then another, Wall said. If teams watch us enough times, theyll come away scratching their heads, with no real answer, because youre going to get something different.
Wall said Folsom (32-2) is preparing for anything and everything in facing the most athletic group on its schedule. Bosco (22-11) has played a national schedule that includes two losses to national No. 1 Mater Dei and wins over state champions from Illinois and Colorado. The Braves are led by 6-foot-8 forward Daniel Hamilton (20.7 points) and 6-4 guard Tyler Dorsey (21.1). Dorsey may draw 6-foot Folsom guard Jordan Ford (22.6), who has been unflappable in the playoffs as a scorer and facilitator.
Weve had everything thrown our way, Wall said. Everything: zone, man-to-man, matchup zones, a press. We find the weakness in that defense and go.
Wall said he continues to be amazed at his teams resolve. This is a group with no senior starters. And its a smart group, Wall said, that grew from a 12-win, non-playoff experience of a year ago and returned largely intact.
Cal-Hi Sports editor Mark Tennis said Folsom has to have another unsung player step up in order to win, be it Josiah Deguara, Colin Russell, Alec Andrews, Gavin Smith, Lukas Hendricks or Jared Wall, the coachs son.
Folsom really plays well together, and Ford is the glue, Tennis said. This is the toughest game of all the boys games to pick.
Folsom seeks the programs first state title since it won the 1985 D-III championship with Bee Player of the Year Mike Doyle and coach Stan Harms, who still attends Bulldogs games, offering glowing sentiment on Wall and the club.
Great team, Harms said recently of the current Bulldogs.
Having grown up in Susanville, a town that supports its teams, Wall said he can appreciate the small-town feel Folsom still offers. Folsom held a rally for the Bulldogs on Thursday, and Wall anticipates perhaps 1,000 Folsom students coming to Sleep Train.
And how will the Bulldogs handle the moment?
Its amazing, Wall said. Our guys get better when the game gets tighter, more tense. But our weakness is, we dont always come out strong enough, sometimes lethargic, and thats because were thinking too much. But when we get going, we go, and Im thinking, Really, guys? Youre going to do this to me again? Then we find a way.
Follow Joe Davidson on Twitter @SacBee_JoeD.