March 7, 2011
Public school boys power Colfax wins with fundamentals

By Bill Paterson

When Colfax beat Amador of Sutter Creek 53-44 on Saturday for the Sac-Joaquin Section Division IV boys basketball championship at Power Balance Arena, it marked the first time in four years that a public school won the title in that division.

Modesto Christian had won three consecutive from 2008 to 2010 before being upset 56-54 this season by Amador in the semifinals. The win also ended Modesto Christian's 46-game playoff win streak.

"I just think it was pretty cool we had a public school final," Colfax coach Mike O'Connell said. "I'm not going to get into any philosophical debates about that. I just think good foothill public schools playing for the section title is pretty good."

Colfax had lost to Modesto Christian in the 2008 and 2010 finals after winning it all in 2004, 2006 and 2007.

Of those four section titles, three have come under different coaches, with O'Connell getting his first after missing out last year and in 2004 (losing to Colfax) when he coached at Lincoln.

So why the consistency, first under Wade Wolff, then Ron Pucci and, for the last two years, under O'Connell?

"There's expectations at the school," O'Connell said. "There is great parent support. They know we are going to work the kids hard and they back us doing that. The kids never miss practice."

The Falcons also don't make many mistakes, and they handle adversity pretty well. When leading scorer and Pioneer Valley League MVP Chase Mosier was forced out of the title game early with a leg injury, they didn't panic.

"It's about fundamentals at our school," O'Connell added. "We don't have anyone who can dunk. We don't run lob-dunk plays. We're about taking care of the ball, making good passes and taking good shots. It's a formula that's been successful over many, many years."

Colfax will be host to the winner of Tuesday's CIF Northern California Regional Division IV opener between Marin Catholic of Kentfield and Santa Cruz on Thursday.

About the Prep blog

Bee staff writers Joe Davidson and Bill Paterson provide news, analysis and insight on the area high school sports scene in their Prep Blog. Have a question to ask them? Send them an email any time at or

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