Thousand Oaks basketball falters in fourth quarter, knocked out of playoffs by Bakersfield Centennial

THOUSAND OAKS — The last remaining Ventura County boys basketball team in the playoffs was dealt all it could handle on Thursday night.

Seventh-seeded Centennial of Bakersfield used a big fourth quarter that included a 10-point scoring run to beat No. 2 seed Thousand Oaks 66-62 in the second round of the CIF State SoCal Regional Division II playoffs.

“Now that it’s over, it’s hitting me hard,” Lancers coach Logan Baltau said. “But every game I felt just grateful to have each one, to just coach those guys one more time.”

The Hawks (26-7) also only allowed 12 points in the final quarter. Elias Chin finished the game with 27 points for the Lancers (26-8) and Noah Cotton scored 13 points.

Centennial made three 3-pointers to capture an early lead before Thousand Oaks began to settle in. A lay-in by Chin gave the Lancers a 13-9 lead with just over a minute left in the opening quarter that the team was able to build off of in the next frame.

Thousand Oaks’ lead grew to six points before the Hawks went on a 4-0 run and began to make shots in the paint to force the lead to change hands multiple times.

Chin was double- and triple-teamed throughout the game and the Hawks had a deep bench that allowed them to make substitutions without a drop in energy or size.

There’s a duality to Chin, a senior who plays gritty in the paint but also scored a perfect 36 on his ACT and taught himself how to read as a child.

“He does so much stuff that I could go on and on,” Baltau said. “He’s smart, he’s tough, he plays hard. He can figure things out that even I’m not seeing sometimes.”

Cotton provided a spark for Thousand Oaks in the third quarter as Chin fought for his shots in the paint. The senior made three corner 3-pointers from the same spot and made two free throws to score 11 of his 13 points.

“He’s just a competitor,” Baltau said. “He never gets rattled when we start getting down or we’re not playing as well. I don’t even have to say anything. By the time we get to the timeout, he’s already got everyone collected.”

Centennial opened up with a 10-point scoring run in the final frame, to the visible discouragement of the Lancers. Thousand Oaks came back to score six points to close out the game, capping the run with a layup from Chin.

“They’re a really good offensive rebounding team,” Baltau said, “and they’re a really good press team and we had a couple turnovers consecutively that they capitalized on and once we gathered ourselves, their rebounding came into play.”

The Lancers, this season’s Marmonte League champions, were on a deep postseason run compared to last season’s first-round exit from the CIF Southern Section Division 2AA playoffs.

The team is also completely made up of juniors and seniors except for sophomore Gabriel Chin. They’re the second Thousand Oaks team to make it to the state playoffs and the first to win a Marmonte League championship in nine years.

“These guys did something here that hasn’t been done here in a long time,” Baltau said.

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