It’s been a while since the Montclair High School boys’ basketball team has been able to lay claim to being a league champion – 20 years to be exact.
So they’re understandably excited about the possibility of doing so this season. Well, just one win stands in the way of the Cavaliers (18-7, 10-1) and the elusive league title.
Montclair finishes out the regular season with a 6:30 p.m. home game against third-place Ontario (12-10, 6-5) on Thursday while Colony (20-7, 10-1), the team with whom they are tied, faces Chino (11-14, 4-7).
Cavaliers coach Bill Blades admits sometimes it’s hard to bring his team back down to earth. But he need only remind them of the last few years when a league title was within reach, only to fumble it away late with a loss to a lesser team.
“That is definitely something we have addressed,” Blades said. “We have been close before and slipped up at the end.”
Montclair and Colony split their regular season meetings with the Cavaliers winning the first 58-55 and the Titans the more recent second game 72-59.
The Montclair team is not physically imposing at all. In fact, they look more like an intramural team. A glance at their roster shows the tallest player is 6-foot and every player is listed as a guard. But they play hard and they play together and being small and scrappy are good attributes to have and lend themselves to beating more physically talented teams.
Blades himself joked about his teams stature, or lack thereof, earlier this season.
“I have been told we look more like a soccer team,” he chuckled.
Senior Gabriel Ontiveros leads the team in scoring (17 ppg) and can be a particularly lethal shooter from 3-point range. Senior and fellow team co-captain Joe Carrington is next (13 ppg) with senior Kyle Smith is a third in double figures (10 ppg).
Braxton Taylor, another of the nine seniors on the roster, is the leading rebounder (6 pg).
Underdog teams are always more compelling to write about so here’s to hoping the Cavaliers can get a share of that league title and make a postseason run.