By Rick Assad
Playing a team in the Gold Division for the first time in the 26th Annual War on the Floor basketball tournament, the Burbank High squad struggled to find an offensive rhythm and as a result trailed from the opening tip and lost 64-41 versus Westlake on Tuesday in the small gym.
Burbank shot poorly from the floor, hitting 32 percent on 16 of 50 and dug itself a huge hole in the opening half.
The Warriors (52.2 percent on 23 of 44) had numerous second-chance opportunities because Burbank failed to block out and Westlake outrebounded the Bulldogs 34-19.
“I think it’s more on us. We played better at this point. We’ve got new guys, a lot of junior varsity guys,” Burbank coach Sid Cooke said. “The second half was almost even. I can live with that. It’s just the effort and unselfishness. They panicked a little bit but that’s why we played a team in the upper division. They’re a good team.”
Cooke thinks playing better teams can only help.
“I think it’s good that we lost two games,” he said. “They were the better team and we’re learning. Because we don’t get better by winning. We’ll be better.”
Trailing 33-12 at the intermission, the second 16-minute half saw the Bulldogs make 12 of 25 for 48 percent from the field but still couldn’t make up ground.
Burbank’s leading scorer was senior small forward Sattwik Banerjee who tossed in 24 points and junior Omar Payind added eight points.
Four other Bulldogs scored, and they were Steven Harutyunian with three points.
Evan Baker, Mentoa McKenzie and William Sudofski each added two points.
Burbank nailed its first two shots in the second half and after a miss dropped four consecutive baskets with Banerjee tallying eight points across this stretch as the Bulldogs drew within 42-22. In between, Baker added a hoop.
“We were shying away from physical contact. On offense, we weren’t really being aggressive off the plays where we usually can be,” Banerjee said. “We have certain reads where we can attack but people were choosing not to and they were hesitant today. We just seemed confused today.”
Banerjee continued: “I would pass more. I would kick more,” he said if he were to do the game over. “I would try to get my team more involved so it would free me up.”
A miss followed and three straight hoops were made as Sudofski scored that made it 46-26. Payind also found the basket. A three pointer by Banerjee also fell into the hole.
“We just started off bad and we weren’t sharing the ball as much but then coming out at halftime coach was pressing us to run the offense,” Payind said. “We kind of got into the game. The second half was mostly even.”
Burbank then missed two in a row, but Banerjee countered with back-to-back baskets.
Of the final 10 attempts, the Bulldogs were successful on just two and they were a three-pointer from Banerjee and a bucket from McKenzie.
The contest began with the Bulldogs missing their first seven shots from the field but Banerjee made a hoop.
Six straight misses followed before Banerjee scored to cut the lead to 21-6.
Five straight failures were halted when Harutyunian canned a three-pointer, and three more misses were interrupted by a trey from Payind.