Garrett James was double- and triple-teamed all night by Thousand Oaks, keeping Marina’s most dangerous scorer in check.
By JORDAN IKEDA
RAFU STAFF WRITER
It wasn’t easy being a member of the Marina Vikings Friday night. Marina was blown out 89-57 by the Thousand Oaks Lancers in the Div. IIAA CIF semifinals and ended their surprising season at the hands of a superior team. But one would never have guessed that particular outcome at the onset of the game.
Despite playing nearly 70 miles away from home way out at Westlake High School in Thousand Oaks, the Vikings filled up half of the gym with a rowdy and boisterous crowd that matched and often exceeded the home crowd. The atmosphere was electric, the noise level nothing short of deafening. And the Vikings responded. Led by senior point guard Garrett James and juniors Tyler James and Brendan Holmes, the Vikings jumped out to a 14-4 first quarter lead. They looked faster and sharper, and got to the hoop despite giving up a sizable height difference at every position. But then Tyler James picked up two fouls and was forced to the bench. From that point on, the Lancers got wise and began to double Garrett James at every opportunity.
Lacking experienced ball handling outside of the two elder James brothers, the Lancers’ swarming defense forced nearly 30 turnovers, most leading to easy fast break lay-ups on the other end. By the four-minute mark of the third quarter, Thousand Oaks had gone on a 50-16 run effectively ending Marina’s finals aspirations. Undeterred by the score, the Vikings crowd remained on their feet the entire second half in full support of their team who continued to battle the impossible deficit. No player exemplified that never die attitude more than Garrett James. Playing his last game in a Marina uniform, James continued his relentless play despite the score, diving for loose balls, hounding his man on defense, attacking the rim and looking to get the whistles that remained silent for the Vikings for much of the first half.
The Lancers enjoyed a 33 to 23 free throw attempt advantage, but their balanced attack that saw 8 players score at least 8 points and Marina’s penchant for turnovers and inability to get easy shots and make threes were the real reasons behind the lopsided affair. With two minutes left in the fourth quarter, James exited to a rousing chorus of fans chanting his name in appreciation for a successful season where he led Marina all the way to the CIF Semi-Finals. He finished the game with 16 hard-earned points, a few off his season average.
“This is what every high school kid dreams of, coming this far,” Garret told the Rafu Shimpo after the game. “We had a good season. We didn’t expect to get this far, so it’s a good way to go out.”
For the season Garrett averaged around 19 points and 8 assists per game. Numbers-wise and game-wise, very much Stephon Marbury-esque. But the comparison stops there. No bad attitude. No me-first mentality. No Starbury. In fact, Garrett wholly embraced the leadership role especially considering that he was leading his two younger brothers, Tyler and J.J. Together, the James brothers formed 3/5ths of a formidable starting five that finished with a 23-7 record and a trip to the semis.
“The fans were the best part of the season,” said Tyler who finished the game with 6 points but was saddled with foul trouble throughout it. “They were all surprised we had three brothers on the team. They were all loving it.”
They weren’t the only ones though.
“I will never forget this year playing with my brothers,” Garrett said. “It was fun.”