Los Banos High senior J.T. Barcellos shoots more 3-pointers than he can count. Coach Mike Bonillas estimates he lofts around 400 jump shots in practice each day.
While the school’s junior varsity and freshman teams were winning the final game of the Tiger Classic on Saturday, Barcellos and a few others shot about 1,000 shots in the school’s other gym.
But for those that were counting, Barcellos drained eight of 10 attempts from behind the arc during LB’s 79-42 home victory over Dos Palos on Tuesday. He finished with 36 points.
“Offensively, my teammates were setting great screens,” Barcellos said. “They were moving the ball because they realized I was getting good shots. To be honest, I couldn’t do anything without my teammates.
“...It was just a spectacular game for all of us. Our defense was great – we held them under 50 points. That’s our focus this year, is defense.”
Athletic director Joe Barcellos, J.T.’s father and the former LBHS basketball coach, said he’s not sure what the school record is for 3-pointers in a game. Phillip Etcheverry, a 2008 graduate who was the resident sharpshooter during his high school years, was in attendance for Barcellos’ eight-3-pointer night. He wasn’t sure about the record either, but he remembered hitting eight 3-pointers in a road game against Pitman.
The younger Barcellos spent much of the game with open shots on the outside, which Dos Palos coach Martin Thompson said was the result of mental lapses on defense.
“We talked about that, those little mental mistakes,” Thompson said. “In the beginning we were in the game, and then you have that mental breakdown where we give them a 3-point play, then they come back down, we have another mental breakdown, we foul the 3-point shooter, now they have a 4-point play. It was a 4-point game, now all of a sudden it’s a 12-point game. And then it snowballed from there.
“Our psyche right now isn’t where we can recover from those things.”
Maybe the only person in the gym who wasn’t surprised that Barcellos was left unharrassed by the Broncos defense was Bonillas.
“Never. He works to get open,” Bonillas said. “Coming off of water polo, which helps his conditioning, he’s not a real big guy, so he’s not carrying around a lot of weight, so I think those two small factors. You don’t think it plays a real big role in it, but anybody that shoots the ball a lot knows you have to have legs in the fourth quarter, and in the third quarter.”
Barcellos split his 3-pointers evenly between the two halves, and also took to the inside when necessary. The Dos Palos duo of Efrain Del Rio (6-foot-5) and John Straughter (6-foot-6) didn’t make things easy for anyone to go inside.
“Mike wants me to expand a little bit, try to drive to the basket, maybe get a mid-range,” Barcellos said. “...They are very big. I remember Mike Jones taking a charge from one of them. He’s, I don’t know, maybe half the size of the guy. He said it didn’t hurt. It looked like it.”
However, LB’s undersized post players didn’t make anything easy for Dos Palos on the inside either – the Tigers racked up 25 fouls and allowed 31 free throw attempts, but the Broncos only made 10 field goals the entire game.
“Our game plan was to, on the ball side, really pressure and not make it easy to enter the post,” Bonillas said. “If you have to ball fake up and then look down, bring the ball back up, we’re working hard out there to give our guy another half second, because with those big guys you need a little bit of time to get around.
“With them swinging the ball, we forgot to get our hand up on the shooter a couple of times, and that’s because we knew they weren’t going to beat us with that, but the inside is where we would have a problem.”
Noah Croninger led the Broncos with 16 points (9 of them free throws), and Los Banos guard Isaac Ruiz gave the Tigers 16 points off the bench, with a trio of 3-pointers himself.
Bonillas held point guard Daniel Aguirre, who is almost back from a knee injury, out of the game as a precaution. But he was very impressed with how junior Brevin Welch has handled the offense in Aguirre’s absence.
“Nobody can get 36 points unless the guy controlling the game knows what he’s doing, is patient and puts everybody in the right place, and that was Brevin today,” Bonillas said. “He’s doing a great job filling in for Daniel while he’s hurt.
“He’s doing such a good job that we’re probably going to use that as an option, and maybe put Daniel at the 2. That way we have two ball handlers, and I think it’s good for Brevin to experience this, so he can do it a little next year. Hopefully he grows a little bit, and that will be a big point guard you have to deal with.”