Sacred Heart Cathedral Wildcats compete against St. Ignatius Wildcats in the Bruce-Mahoney basketball game at the Cow Palace on January 3. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Lick-Wilmerding and University first high school teams to play at Chase Center

Like the games at Oracle, admission is free.

After months of negotiating and wrangling for dates and times, Lick-Wilmerding and University will become the first high school teams to play at the Chase Center this Friday afternoon.

Having spent the last 13 years matching up at Oracle Arena, part of a school-wide event in which the entire student body would bus to the East Bay to support their teams, the Tigers and Red Devils were able to coordinate with the Golden State Warriors to play the inaugural high school game at the NBA’s newest arena, with the boys tipping off at 3:45 and the girls scheduled for 5:15.

Prior attempts to play at the arena, including negotiations for St. Ignatius and Sacred Heart Cathedral to host the Bruce-Mahoney Game, fell through. That means that the Red Devils and Tigers will have the distinction as the first high school teams to play in the new venue.

University enters Friday’s tilt alone in first place in the Bay Counties League West Division, riding high after a 59-36 road victory over Stuart Hall on Tuesday. Point guard Christian Heng and Ren Zanze each had 11 points to lead the Red Devils, who jumped out to a 33-16 halftime lead, and they also got 10 points apiece from Charlie Kennedy and Whitner Reichman.

The win helped University (12-6, 3-0 BCL West) wash out the memories of a brutal non league loss on Saturday afternoon, falling 57-55 on a buzzer-beating three-pointer to St. Francis. None of University’s six losses this year have come by more than seven points, with two in overtime.

The defeat at the hands of the Lancers marked the second heartbreaking loss to a WCAL team this year, as the Devils also lost to St. Ignatius in OT back on Dec. 14. Lick-Wilmerding (14-5, 1-2) took San Domenico (11-7, 2-1) to overtime on Tuesday night but ultimately returned home from the North Bay with a loss, falling 68-67. The Tigers will hope that the Warriors’ new digs brings them better luck than the old barn, as they had lost the final three games at Oracle.

Riordan in tie for first: The Riordan Crusaders responded to their upset loss to Serra to open WCAL play with three straight blowout road wins, the last of which put them in a tie atop the league standings heading into Friday’s vital home game against Bellarmine. Even with point guard Bryce Monroe out (hip flexor), Robert Vaihola had 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting and added eight rebounds to lead the Crusaders to an easy 78-43 win at Valley Christian (8-6, 0-4). The win puts Riordan (12-2, 3-1) in a five-way tie for first through four games. Bellarmine (13-1, 3-1) will head up to the Crusader Forum on Friday night as one of those teams in the tie for first after delivering a historic 65-14 beatdown to Serra (11-3, 3-1). Also tied for first are Mitty (12-2, 3-1) and St. Francis (11-3, 3-1). The Lancers are the dark horse in the pack, maintaining their share of the league lead after a 56-44 Tuesday win at St. Ignatius (5-9, 0-4). GC Toledo Rivera scored nine to lead the Wildcats in the losing effort.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Wildcats compete against St. Ignatius Wildcats in the Bruce-Mahoney basketball game at the Cow Palace on January 3. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Huge MLK game awaits Irish: Sacred Heart Cathedral’s attention is on snapping a three-game losing streak with Friday’s 3 p.m. trip to St. Francis, but Monday afternoon’s game at the MLK “I Have A Dream” Classic at Merritt College may decide the fate of SHC’s entire season. With a 4-5 record thus far in non league games and a bear of a league schedule, the easiest path for the Fightin’ Irish to qualify for the playoffs would be to post a .500 non-league record, which they could do by beating Oakland on Monday in a game set to tip off at 4 p.m. as part of the Oakland Athletic League’s annual showcase.

Sacred Heart Cathedral Wildcats compete against St. Ignatius Wildcats in the Bruce-Mahoney basketball game at the Cow Palace on January 3. (Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner)

SHC has already had plenty of chances to scout the Wildcats, having played in Oakland’s Damian Lillard Classic during winter break. The Irish finished eighth in that tournament, while Oakland placed fourth. Before that, SHC has a Friday trip to Mountain View to take on a Lancers team that has won 10 straight head-to-head meetings, including all six since St. Francis alum Sean MacKay became the head coach of the Fightin’ Irish. Last year, St. Francis ruined senior night on Ellis Street with an overtime buzzer beater.

This story has been updated to correct the time of the girl’s game and an error about whether there will be a cost for tickets to the Chase Center game. Admission will be charged.

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