The Panthers, in their first season under coach John Woolery, posted a solid 19-9 record that ended last Friday with a 60-47 defeat to nemesis De La Salle in a North Coast Section Division I quarterfinal game.
Antioch got 18 points from 6-foot 3-inch senior guard Calvin Douglas and 13 from 6-8 St. Mary's-bound post Tim Williams in the team's third loss to the Spartans this year.
Douglas, who averaged a league-best 22.7 points per game and 6.3 rebounds, was voted the Co-Bay Valley Athletic League Most Valuable Player on Monday. Williams, who averaged 20.4 points and 10.7 rebounds, was a first-team all-BVAL selection.
After taking a 16-13 lead after the first quarter, Antioch couldn't overcome De La Salle's stifling pressure, as the Spartans began trapping Douglas and double-teaming Williams down low. The Panthers were outscored 47-31 the rest of the way, tallying just 12 points in the middle quarters.
Jose Rivera led the way with 17 points and league Co-MVP Brandon Smith added 12 for De La Salle, which improved to 24-3.
"They dared our other guys to beat them, and ultimately De La Salle just had too much," Woolery said. "We have some promising young players, but our two big threats weren't enough to beat a team like that."
The Panthers, second in the BVAL behind 12-4 De La Salle, opened NCS play last week with an impressive 70-59 win against a strong James Logan squad from Union City. Williams scored 28 points in that win and Douglas 22, including three three-pointers.
Ramsey Nijem, a 5-9 junior guard, added 10 points for the Panthers, who made 23 of 29 free throws, including 10 in the final quarter.
"That win and the victory at Pittsburg were probably our biggest wins of the year,"
Woolery said. "I don't think many people thought we could beat (Logan) down there, but we proved we're a very good team and play in a very good league."
Woolery, a former player and assistant coach at Santa Clara University, said his initial season was a great learning experience. He gave his team a grade of B and himself a C.
"I think if I had to do it all over again I would have prepared differently," he said. "I wouldn't have focused so much at winning the non-league games, but rather teaching the boys more about the game."
Besides Williams and Douglas, the Panthers also lose seniors Rodney McNab, Michael Mendoza, Ver'ron Busby, Therian Williams and Deandre Lancaster to graduation.
"We'll be a young team next year, but possibly a better-rounded one," Woolery said. "Without our two big guns, we'll go through a renaissance. But I'm very much looking forward to it."