By Rick Assad
Three games into the 26th Annual War on the Floor tournament and the Burbank High boys’ basketball team has two wins and one loss after pushing aside Holy Martyrs 45-31 in a Silver Division pool play game on Saturday afternoon in the main gym.
The two best players on the floor were senior small forward Sattwik Banerjee and junior forward Omar Payind as the pair combined for 39 points.
Senior wing Gio Castillo also added two points as did senior guard Liam Baker and Mentoa McKenzie.
Neither squad shot especially well from the field as Burbank made 18 of 56 for 32.1 percent and Holy Martyrs canned 11 of 53 for 20.7 percent.
Like Thursday’s win over Van Nuys, the second half proved better and more efficient for the Bulldogs as they shot 46.1 percent (12 of 26).
The defense was also better in the second half for the Bulldogs as the visitors shot 13.3 percent (four of 30).
“The second unit was really good defensively and they bought in. The unit that was in played defense the way we wanted,” Burbank coach Sid Cooke said. “Full court, and lose their man, and we pressured the ball and then we got physical. They’re [Holy Martyrs] a physical team and we pulled away. We got up 20 because we played the right way.”
The first half was knotted at 18-18 and saw Burbank miss its first two shots but Banerjee accounted for 11 points that included a three-pointer that made it 14-11 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The second half began with Burbank missing two attempts before Payind scored to make it 21-20 and another goal from Payind extended the lead to 30-20.
“Our defense is something that we’ve been trying to work on and it’s getting there, but I think we played with a lot more intensity and effort and we got questionable calls so we can’t really be mad about that,” said Banerjee, who finished with 23 points including 13 in the first half. “But the effort and the fact that we were being aggressive and getting fouls was good on our part.”
Banerjee was able to find some open areas and score.
“I wanted to focus more on my defense, and I contributed in that sense, but I was still able to get buckets,” he said.
Payind wasn’t done as he tossed in four consecutive shots including his final basket that made it 41-24.
“The last two games were a little sluggish, but I just had to get into the varsity routine because last season I was playing junior varsity,” said Payind, who scored 16 points with 13 coming in the second half.
Payind added: “This is my first season up and just now I’m getting the groove and starting to play well,” he said. “I feel great. I actually played well. I tried to get open and get my shots.”
The Bulldogs closed the game by making just two of nine as Banerjee and McKenzie put the ball in the hoop.
From the outset, both teams struggled to locate the basket as Burbank made four of 17. Holy Martyrs canned one of its first 11 from the field.
The Bulldogs failed on their first two from the field, but Banerjee scored, and three misses followed before Banerjee scored and then eight were off target before Banerjee made a hoop as did Payind.
Three straight misses followed before Banerjee drilled a three-pointer to make it 14-11.
Burbank missed a couple more, but Banerjee found the hoop. The Bulldogs ended the half with six consecutive misses.