Rams and Wolverines face off in key game

4th seeded San Bernardino (27-3) will face off against top seeded San Francisco (27-3)is the Elite Eight on Thursday evening. The matchup between the two powerhouses will be the first time the two schools met this season as both teams are good enough to bring a state championship to their respectable programs.

4th seeded San Bernardino comes into the game on a 16 game winning streak and winners of the Inland Empire Conference. The Wolverines went undefeated in conference action and have not lost a game since December 29th when they lost to Salt Lake City Community College. The last time the Wolverines lost to a California school was on November 13th when San Bernardino lost to Saddleback. San Bernardino is 25-2 against California schools this season. San Bernardino has four players that have averaged in double figures this season and have an elite back court. The Wolverines are led by sophomore Dominique Daniels Jr, as the point guard is one of the best players in the state. The “5-10” guard averages 26.2 points, 6.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds and is an elite prospect at the four year level. Daniels has made 89 three pointers this season, 8th in the state in assists to turnover ration and 3rd in the state in assists in the 2022-2023 season. The point guard has scored 20 or more points 26 times this season and scored a season high of 47 points against Desert on January 25th. Sophomore Armon Muldrew is another player that has had a standout season for the Wolverines. The shooting guard has averaged 18.7 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. Muldrew has been another player for the Wolverines that has been a consistent scoring threat on the offensive end and can score with the best of them in the state. Sophomore Sebastian Mendoza is the unsung hero of the bunch as the wing has averaged 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds and his versatility at the defensive end is vital to the teams success. The wing averages 7 rebounds per contest and has 63 three pointers to his name in his sophomore campaign. Aamari Smith has played well for the Wolverines as the guard has averaged 11.6 points and 5.2 rebounds this season. Smith is another defensive standout as the sophomore leads the state in steals (77) and his offense does not get enough credit at times. Chine Nwanevu (6.0 points), Sylis Gray (6.6 points), and Chester Makoi (7.4 points) are three other players that have provided punch this season for the Wolverines. San Bernardino has played well all season long and sit in the top 20 in multiple categories throughout the season. The Wolverines are 4th in the state in point per game as San Bernardino averages 88.1 points per game and are 2nd in the state in points per game allowed as the Wolverines only give up 61.3 points per contest. San Bernaridno is 8th in the state in field goals made (33.3), 5th in the state in field goal percentage (49%), 18th in the state in three pointers made (8.4), 10th in three point field goal percentage (37%), 6th in assists per game (18.9), 4th in turnovers per game (10.3), 2nd in steals per game (12.4), 11th in blocks per game (4.7), and 9th in opponents field goal percentage (40%). The Wolverines will look to lock in against a very good San Francisco team in this matchup.

San Francisco comes into the match up as one of the favorites to win the state championship. The Rams have won seven games in a row since losing to Chabot and were co champions of the Coast North Conference. San Francisco has one of the most balanced scoring teams coming into the Elite Eight as five players average in double figures this season. The Rams are led in scoring by “6-8” sophomore Te’Jon Sawyer as the forward averages 15.0 points and 6.9 rebounds per contest. Sawyer has shot 53% from the floor and shot 43% from downtown and has been a match up problem for a lot of opponents this season. Sharp shooting Jamir Thomas is another player that has averaged in double figures for the Rams as the sophomore is averaging 12.1 points per game and has made 71 three pointers this season. Thomas has unlimited range and is shooting 43% from downtown. UCSB committ Mezziah Oakman adds size in the middle as the sophomore big man averages 11.5 points and 6.9 rebounds and is 6th in the state in block shots. Oakman is 5th in the state in field goal percentage as the sophomore is shooting 65% from the floor. EJ Neal is another player in double figures and the jack of all trades is the heart and soul of the Rams. The sophomore averages 10.8 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.7 assists and his impact at the defensive end is key for the Rams. CJ Hardy is the last player that averages in double figures as the guard averages 10.4 points per game. Matt Williams (7.8 points), Dante Sawyer (9.0 points) and Corey Yerger (6.0 points) are all other players that have played well for the Rams. San Francisco has been one of the most dominate teams from a statistical stand point. The Rams lead the state in points per game averaging 97.9 points while they are 10th in the state in points per game allowed at 66.5 points per game. The Rams are 1st in the state in field goals made per game (36.5), 3rd in field goals attempted per game (70), 1st in field goal percentage (52%), 15th in three point field percentage (15th), 5th in free throws made per game (16.8), 5th in free throw attempts per game (23.9), 17th in offensive rebounds per game (12.9), 2nd in defensive rebounds per game (31.3), 3rd in total rebounds per game (44.2), 1st in rebound margin per game (+15.1), 2nd in assists per game (21.2), 4th in steals per game (11.2), 6th in the state in blocks per game (5.1), 4th in opponents field goal percentage (37%), and 3rd in the state in opponents three point field goal percentage (28%). The Rams have dominated for a big part of the season and will look to have good game against San Bernardino.

Outlook: The Rams and Wolverines are two teams worthy of winning the state championship title. San Francisco has a lot of depth within their line up and will look to use full court pressure to disrupt the Wolverines. The Rams have a lot of size and depth and have the possibility of throwing different looks at the defensive end throughout the game. San Bernardino will be tough to press as the Wolverines have one of the best point guards in the state. The Wolverines starting five can play with anyone in the state and San Bernardino will need to compete on the glass and stay out of foul trouble to enhance their chances moving into the next round. This will be a game to watch and probably the best matchup between the eight teams on day one action in Lemoore.

Massey Rating Projection (www.masseyratings.com): San Francisco 85 San Bernardino 76