Riordan and Sacred Heart Cathedral appeared to be on a crash course for a CCS Division III Championship rematch before those plans went out the window on Saturday as a pair of public schools knocked off San Francisco’s Catholic powerhouses at neutral-site St. Ignatius.
Top-seeded Sacred Heart Cathedral was slow out of the gate and never recovered in a 77-58 loss to eighth-seeded Gunderson of San Jose, while Riordan was knocked off by second-seeded Monterey, 77-62.
Though Monterey (22-3) entered with the higher seed and superior record, seventh-seeded Riordan (8-18) had faced much stronger competition.
That experience seemed to boost Riordan early on, as the Crusaders jumped out to a 6-0 lead, forcing Monterey to call a timeout just 70 seconds into the game. The Toreadores settled in after that, tying the game by the midpoint of the quarter and leading by as much as 10 in the first half.
Riordan cut an 11-point deficit to three with an 8-0 run early in the third quarter sparked by senior Moises Sandoval, who finished with 14 points, but Monterey answered with an 11-4 run to push the lead to 58-48.
The Crusaders’ final chance was arguably their best. A Matt Balingit layup cut the deficit to 60-57, but Monterey sophomore Mohammed Adam answered with consecutive 3-pointers to put his team up by nine. Monterey closed the game on a 17-5 run.
Adam (5-7 3-pt shooting, 21 points) and Kobe Ordonio (18 points) led the way for a Toreadores team that saw five different players finish in double-figures.
While Monterey used a balanced attack to take down Riordan, Gunderson defeated Sacred Heart Cathedral thanks to its senior trio of Mrad Abrha (23 points), Devon Snelgrove (18 points) and Christian Futch (25 points, 13 rebounds).
The Fightin’ Irish trailed just 26-21 in the second quarter before Gunderson closed the half on a 16-0 run. SHC committed 16 turnovers and made just four of 16 3-pointers. The Irish also failed to get to the free throw line, attempting just eight foul shots all game, compared to Gunderson’s 20.
Gunderson (15-11) shot only six 3-pointers and made just two of them, but the Grizzlies drove to the hoop all evening and shot 58.8% for the game.
Romelo Dunbar scored 14 in his final high school game. Sacred Heart Cathedral (10-15) had started WCAL play 0-7, but won three of its final seven games, and all four losses were tight finishes against teams that had trounced the Irish in their first meetings. Unfortunately for the top-seeded Irish, they reverted to their early-season form for much of Saturday’s game.
“They were hitting some shots, they did a good job out of transition and we just didn’t defend the ball all that well,” said SHC’s first-year head coach, Sean MacKay. “We weren’t hitting shots. The culmination of not hitting shots and not defending was reflected by the score.”
The Irish trailed by as much as 25 before a 16-5 run to cut Gunderson’s lead to 66-52, but the Grizzlies made their free throws down the stretch to complete the upset and claim their tenth win in 11 games.
Though the losses are disappointing, both SHC and Riordan can look ahead to bright futures. Nathan Robinson, a junior, led the Fightin’ Irish with 19 points while Emmett Neal, a sophomore, scored 17. Riordan was led by freshman Jelani Clark with 20 points while James Chun, a junior, added 13.
Jefferson pulls away late to advance to semifinals
It took until the fourth quarter, but Jefferson finally put Sobrato to bed in order to advance to the CCS Division III Semifinals. After Sobrato took a 35-33 lead on a Kenzeddie Williams 3-pointer, Jefferson (18-9) unleashed a 20-2 run to take control in a 58-43 win over their adversaries from Morgan Hill.
Junior point guard Daniel Benjamin scored six of his game-high 20 points to put Jefferson ahead 39-35, and the Grizzlies didn’t look back from there. Mark Petalver added 14 points and Rodney Lawrence scored nine for the third-seeded Grizzlies, while Sobrato (19-7) got 14 points from Williams, all in the second half.
Six of those points came well after the outcome had been decided. Locking down Williams was a key part of Jefferson’s gameplan, said head coach John Falabella. “He was the focal point of their offense. He’s a great shooter, so we wanted to contain him.”
With the win, Jefferson is now one win away from qualifying for the CIF State Tournament. A win over Monterey would put the Grizzlies in the tournament for the first time since 1988, when they were known as the Indians. That team brought a state title home to Daly City.