After a grueling 25 game regular season, the playoffs had arrived for the California Pintos. California came into the Class 4 District 10 Tournament in Eldon as the number 3 seed and earned a first round matchup with the 6 seed Buffalo Bison. The Bison were led by senior center Joseph Horinek and senior guard Rilye Phillips. The Pintos used an unseen weapon in their arsenel to jump out to a big lead and they never looked back. Defeating Buffalo 67-39 and advancing to the district semifinals.
Going into the game, California knew that they were at a disadvantage with both height and rebounding. So they decided to use a full-court defense to disrupt Buffalo offensive rythym. After both teams traded opening baskets, the Pintos defense kicked into gear and the Bison had no answers. The Pintos took advantage of six first quarter turnovers and turned into eight fast break points. In addition, sophomore guard Brooks Volkart provided a big lift for the Pintos with nine first quarter points as part of a 21-4 first quarter run.
California continued to control the pace of momentum of the game throughout most of the second quarter, but ran into foul trouble in the last three and a half minutes. The Pintos gave up nine free throws to Phillips, including two free throws at the buzzer after he was fouled on a three pointer by California's Gavin Porter. Although the Bison got extra points on the board, California still led 32-19 at halftime.
In the second half, the Pintos continued to put full-court pressure on the Bison, but Buffalo picked up their defense by trapping California's guard up high on the floor. However, California broke loose for another run by taking advantage of beating the Bison down the floor for transition baskets. With sophomore forward Hayden Kilmer knocking down two three-pointers in the process. The highlight of the game for California came at the end of the third quarter. California was up by 24 points with 1.4 second left in the quarter. Volkart guard the inbounds pass and shot a high-arching 28-foot three pointer that went in the basket as the clock expired. The shot sent the California fans into a frenzy and the Pintos to the fourth quarter in command of the game.
The fourth quarter saw California put the game out Buffalo's reach for good and several of California's reserves saw playing time in the final four minutes. The California fans went wild again when the Pintos got two layups in the final minute from senior forward Peter Dampf and freshman forward Blain Kusgen. Overall, ten different Pintos got their names in the scorebook and California defeated Buffalo 67-39 in the opening round of the district tournament.
Brooks Volkart led the Pintos with 16 points, five assists and three steals. Volkart also recorded his 100th assist on the season on Monday's victory. Gavin Porter had ten points, three rebounds and a steal. Hayden Kilmer had ten points, two rebounds, and an assist. Freshman forward Landen Dunham had seven points and three rebounds. Hunter Berendzen had six points and six rebounds. Ayden Bryant and Chase Schlup each had five points.
Rilye Phillips finished as Buffalo's high scorer with 17 points, with ten of those points coming from the foul line. Joseph Horinek, Buffalo's senior center, was held to just four points, seven rebounds and two blocks.
"Camdenton has got some really nice athletes and they come from a really tough conference. I thought we did some things OK in the game, but we didn't have any consistency throughout the game. They had us outmatched in a couple of different areas, but that game didn't matter coming into tonight," Conway said. "We knew that tonight was going to be another challenge and I thought the kids did a nice job of paying attention to details. Almost everybody we've played in the last few weeks has had a 6'6 or a 6'7 kid. So I thought our press did a good job for us tonight. Our hands were active, we got some steals, we got stops, we attacked the rim and got the win."
The Pintos now advance to play Springfield Catholic in the district semifinals on Wednesday night. Tipoff is at 7:30 p.m.