Be it on the basketball court or the football field, the 6-foot-6 junior continues to stake his claim as Camarillo High’s premier athletic performer.
Maulhardt’s expertise was on display again Wednesday night in the first round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 2A boys’ basketball playoffs.
Swatting shots, snaring rebounds, defending Norwalk’s most prolific scorer and tallying a team- leading 22 points— Maulhardt was the man in Camarillo’s 67-58 victory at home over the outclassed Lancers.
“Jake is a great kid, a great team player,” said Allan Sadowsky, Camarillo’s first-year head coach.
“He does everything. He’s an unselfish player. That’s the key with Jake: he doesn’t get mad if he doesn’t score. But (Wednesday) night he came up big for us.”
The junior forward, who was an all-county wide receiver in the fall, hit a 3-point basket to open the game, and the Scorpions (19-8) never looked back en route to a convincing first-round triumph.
“He’s a beast,” said Scorpion senior shooting guard Ryan Pettit of Maulhardt. “He always steps up in big situations.”
Camarillo’s game plan going in was to dominate Norwalk (15-13) in the paint, and that’s exactly what the Scorpions did.
Six-foot-6 center Dan Reilly scored 12 points, with the majority of his attempts coming from point-blank range.
Pettit consistently knifed through the Lancers’ vacated lane with little threat of peril, tallying 11 points in the process.
“We had a clear height advantage,” said Reilly, a three-year varsity member who celebrated his first playoff win at ACHS.
“They only had one guy who could match up with all our big guys inside.”
A week ago, Camarillo let the Pacific View League championship slip away by losing at home to Rio Mesa.
Taking care of business in the playoff opener was a nice way to erase some of the sour memories still lingering from that bitter defeat, Maulhardt said.
“We felt like we let the seniors down last week,” the junior said. “We wanted to get them a playoff win. We did not want this to be their last game. We wanted to redeem ourselves at home.”
Senior forward Evan Vigiano added six points for ACHS, while sophomore guard Corbin Covey logged four points.
In all, 10 different players scored for the Scorpions on a night where ACHS led by 11 points at intermission and Norwalk never got closer than six points during the second half.
“We knew they weren’t that deep—based on all the info I had on them—and we knew they weren’t that physical,” Sadowsky said. “Our plan was to muscle them and to run on them.
“I didn’t think they’d be able to keep up with us, and really, they didn’t. Their point guard was real tired at the end of the game because of the pressure we put on him.”
Senior forward Manuel Castaneda scored a game-high 26 points for Norwalk before fouling out in the late stages of the fourth quarter.
Although they did a lot of good things in Round 1, the Scorpions need a much better effort from the free-throw line during tonight’s second round, a 7 p.m. clash at Foothill of Santa Ana, second-place finishers from the Century League.
Camarillo made only 12-of-22 free throws against Norwalk, a paltry 55-percent conversion rate.
Against Foothill ( 20- 7), another mediocre charity-stripe performance like that could spell doom and gloom for ACHS.
“They are high school kids, and even pros struggle from the line,” Sadowsky said. “In a close game, maybe they concentrate a little bit harder.”
Playing in a hostile environment against a highly skilled squad like Foothill, Reilly said Camarillo will need to maintain razor-sharp focus for every tick of the clock.
“It’s the CIF playoffs,” he said. “The teams will just keep getting better and better. We can’t make mistakes and hope to win.”