With 6-foot-7 star Kyle Gouveia playing with the flu, the Redskins were unable to keep pace with Encina from the opening tip-off.
Encina jumped out to a fast 15-7 lead after the first quarter, thanks in part to some strong outside shooting.
“That threw us off a little bit,” Clifton said. “It took us a little while to settle down. We kind of got off to a slow start there.”
The nerves went away and Calaveras was able to trim Encina’s advantage in the second quarter and entered halftime trailing 30-22.
“We started playing our game and stopped forcing everything,” Gouveia said. “Everything was going good for us. We were playing very good.”
Encina outscored Calaveras 22-21 in the third quarter, but the Redskins were able to slice Bulldogs’ lead to seven with under four minutes to play in the fourth.
Then with a chance to cut it to five, Calaveras missed a shot, and Encina went the other way for a quick bucket.
After a Calaveras turnover, Encina, again, got a fast basket and from there, the Bulldogs were able to seal their victory.
“We just feel off towards the end of the game,” Gouveia said.
“We turned it over a little bit more than we should have,” Clifton said. “It was a combination of a slow start, not feeling 100 percent and we didn’t take care of the ball like we needed too against a team as good as them.”
Both Gouveia and Jayson Verona scored 11 points and senior guard Mike Seawell chipped in a team-high 15, including two baskets from beyond the arc. T.J. Crenshaw added six and Kyle Funk and Taylor Manning had four each. Trey Smith finished with one.
Calaveras completed its outstanding season with a 22-6 record, including a 14-1 mark en route to an outright Mother Lode League Championship.
After missing the postseason last year, the Redskins turned it around and won a home playoff game for the first time in nearly two years.
“I’m very proud of them,” Clifton said of his Redskins. “We set a lot of goals this year, but we didn’t get to all of them. But what I like most is that we set our goals high. That’s a great quality. We accomplished a lot. There’s no shame in being 22-6. We did it with a lot of hard work. I’m going to miss these group of players.”
For Encina (26-3), four players scored in double figures and the team drained 11 3s. Kevin Largo led the Bulldogs with 21 points and both Matthew Coleman and Donald Jackson netted 15. Dajon Green had 13.
“They were very good,” Clifton said. “They’re very explosive, very athletic.”
Although basketball will end for most of the Calaveras seniors, Gouveia will continue his career at Cal State Stanislaus. He capped off his two-year Redskin varsity career as the team’s top scorer and rebounder as a senior.
“The sky’s the limit for Kyle,” Clifton said. “He’s gotten better and better each year. He’s come a long way, and he’s got a long way to go. He knows that. But he’s not intimidated and he has a good personality to fight through.”