BURLINGAME — Facing a solid opponent in their fifth game in six days, the Stuart Hall Knights had to contend with Carlmont without one of its leaders — Spencer O’Brien-Steele — due to an ankle injury.
Even without O’Brien-Steele, though, the Knights got a huge second half from sophomore Nigel Burris to defeat the Scots 66-58 in the first round of the 42nd Burlingame Lions Club Invitational. Burris scored 19 of his game-high 28 points in the second half as the Knights never trailed after halftime.
“We didn’t expect him to step out and shoot the three like he did,” said Carlmont coach Ron Ozorio. “He gave them a big boost, and we stayed with them as best we could.”
In all, Burris shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc in the second half — all coming at major inflection points in the game — and pulled down seven of his game-high 14 rebounds to complete the double-double.
The Scots (1-1) tied the game at 29 with five minutes left in the third on a Sho Takahashi bucket off the glass, and evened the score at 31 when Sammy Bean answered a Miles Amos transition layup with one of his own, but when Burris hit a go-ahead three in the following possession, Stuart Hall (6-1) was off and running.
After a David Bedrosian put-back brought the Scots back within a point, Burris sank a corner three off an inbound, and after Bedrosian — one of Carlmont’s nine seniors — cut it back to one, Burris hit a third 3-pointer to make it 40-36. Even though acharge wiped out a Burris layup on the following possession, he would score on the next trip down to open up a six-point lead, the Knights’ largest to that point.
A layup plus a foul from Burris would stretch the lead to eight, and Stuart Hall would enter the fourth up 47-41. An 8-2 run, capped off by a Jo Weinstein three, would stretch the lead to double-digits for the first time, and Carlmont would never be able to get closer than seven after that.
Amos scored 10 of his 15 in the first half and Alex Byrd finished with nine. Carlmont got 18 points from senior guard LaJuanNelson and 11 from Bedrosian.
O’Brien-Steele was injured in the first game of the Redwood Classic in Boonville, and is expected to be out for another 1-2weeks, meaning his status for next Thursday’s marquee game at Riordan is in question. The Knights won the game in which he was injured and are 4-0 without him, with Tuesday being by far the most difficult test they’ve faced in his absence.
Before the eight-point win, the Knights’ prior four victories had all been by at least 29 points. In O’Brien-Steele’s absence, Stuart Hall has largely played smaller lineups, with Jay Henry Ryan playing more inside and 6-foot-6 Nicholas Harle getting minutes off the bench. The Knights continue play in the Lions Club Invitational on Thursday against Palo Alto at 8 p.m. in the finale of the four-game evening. Palo Alto beat Hillsdale in the opening round, 66-61.