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Montgomery awaits rematch with Tamalpais in NCS Division 2 semifinal

The last time the Montgomery boys basketball team played Tamalpais, coach Zac Tiedeman noticed his players lost their composure when things weren’t going well.

Not getting back to defend, not staying focused.

“We didn’t have very good body language,” Tiedeman said. “When they went on a run, we didn’t handle it well.”

He’s hoping his Vikings, seeded seventh in the North Coast Section playoffs, have matured since that Dec. 17 loss.

They face the No. 6 Red Tailed Hawks again Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at home in a Division 2 semifinal game. The Montgomery girls tip off at 8 p.m., facing Acalanes in their own semifinal.

There is plenty of evidence the Vikings boys have seasoned since that December game, a 50-46 loss in the final of the Brett Callan Memorial Tournament in Petaluma.

They have won on 12 of their past 13 games, placing second in the North Bay League at 12-2, just one game back of Cardinal Newman. They’ve been pushed the past two games, winning by only 4 and 5 points in the NCS first round and quarterfinals.

Tiedeman has tried to teach his team how to remain steady when things are going poorly - like the recent loss to Newman in the NBL tournament championship - but also when the team is cruising.

“I have to reiterate how important it is to stay even-keeled,” he said. “They have to continue to make the play. It’s not like you can do drills for it, but when you see that kind of thing pop up, like not getting back and defending, you have to call it out.

“With Tam, they play with quick pace. If you relax for a second, they’ll burn you.”

Tamalpais, from Mill Valley, has two quick, 3-point shooting guards, Jack Duboff and Jason Iles, the Vikings will have to defend against. Duboff averages 16 points a game and Jackson almost 15.

Jackson will be something of a new quantity, given that he didn’t play in December because his transfer wasn’t final.

In that game, Montgomery trailed 37-30 after three quarters but narrowed it to 48-46 with less than a minute to play.

A potential tying shot by Montgomery rimmed in and out. The Hawks’ Duboff downed two free throws in the final seconds to secure the win.

“That was definitely a game that went back and forth, one you don’t like to see either team lose,” said Tamalpais coach Tim Morgan. “I expect another tough battle with them.”

Tam will pressure ball-handlers Alex Soria and Ryan Merriken and big men Riley O’Neil and Evan Poulsen.

“They have great guard play, they shoot all over the place and they have that big boy down low,” Morgan said. “They cause a lot of problems with their style of play.”

The game is especially rewarding for the Hawks, who haven’t advanced this far into the sectionals in 17 years.

In addition to their two starting guards, Tamalpais (20-10 overall and 10-4 in the Marin County League) sends out 6-4 post players Jason Iles and Pablo Lochman and 6-3 guard Jacob Mueller.

“Their biggest threat is they have multiple guys on the offensive end that can shoot the ball,” Tiedeman said. “They have a few guys who can put it on the ground and find a way to the paint.”

He said the Hawks will be a defensive challenge for the 24-6 Vikings.

“There are going to be five guys on the court for them all the time that are going to test us.”

Morgan said essentially the same thing about Montgomery.

“They’re a great defensive team, not easy to score the ball on,” he said. “You have to move the ball well and find gaps to drive, which they’re good at closing.”

Despite being the higher seed, Montgomery - 7 to Tamalpais’ 6 - the Vikings got to host the game because the Hawks’ gym on their Mill Valley campus was too small for an NCS sectional semifinal, Morgan said.

You can reach Lori A. Carter at 707-521-5470 or lori.carter@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @loriacarter.

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