June 15, 2024

OC Sports Zone: Community First

Highly-ranked Northwood looks to continue competing at ‘high level’ in PCL

Northwood students cheer on the Timberwolves Wednesday night as Ryan Abaye dribbles the ball. (Photo: Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone).

Fans of the Northwood High School basketball team, including students who cheered on the Timberwolves Wednesday night in a Pacific Coast League victory over Woodbridge, have had a lot to cheer about this season.

Northwood improved its record to 15-5 overall and 2-0 in the Pacific Coast League with a 61-52 over the Warriors at home. Northwood is ranked fourth in this week’s CIF 3A poll. Woodbridge is sixth in 3A.

“I would attest this season’s success to knowing our identity, trusting each other, and a sincere unselfishness,” said Northwood’s third year coach Christian Manalo, who has led the program to a winning record in each of his seasons leading the Timberwolves.

“We play an exciting brand of basketball that our players have really enjoyed being a part of and I’m just glad we’ve been able to really embrace who we are. Most importantly, the team truly enjoys playing with one another and have a chemistry that is special and unlike a team I’ve been a part of. It obviously helps when you make shots and have shot makers, but when you have a program that completely buys in and trusts coaches and vice versa, a staff that trust the players, you get to reap the benefits of that. 

“We do not take for granted the record we have and understand we have beat some good teams, but we have a bigger picture we set out to reach and want to keep our head down and continue to play at a high level.”

Northwood is led by senior Zaid Yunis, who is averaging 18 points a game and reached the 1,000-point mark in his career Wednesday. 

Other key players include senior guard Ryan Abaye, who is averaging 12 points and 4.5 assists per game. Abaye is the program’s all-time leader in steals and is No. 2 in assists, Manalo said.

Senior guard TJ Navarro and junior guard Sidd Raj are averaging 10 points a game. Raj, who wasn’t eligible until the sit out period ended, has had multiple games of five or more 3-pointers since joining the team, Manalo said.

Junior forward Justin Liu, who is averaging seven points, six rebounds and three 3-pointers a game, is another key player.

“He has really taken steps offensively and defensively to help with the team’s flow and fluidity,” Manalo said.

Northwood continues PCL play Friday night, playing at Portola. The Timberwolves play at Sage Hill Tuesday.

—Tim Burt, OC Sports Zone; timburt@ocsportszone.com