With their patented brand of smashmouth football and a tireless effort from running back Luis Contreras, the Lincoln Mustangs repeated as state champions, winning the CIF Division 7-AA title 35-26 over Gardena on Saturday.
Contreras, a senior, whose potential was recognized last year by Phil Ferrigno and his coaching staff, was challenged to not just become Lincoln’s lead rusher, but to also improve in the classroom.
“He’s come a long way. He communicates better and he’s working hard on the field,” Ferrigno said. “I still wish he worked a little harder in the classroom, because I think he’s really gifted, but he’s come a long way.”
Contreras ran 56 times, breaking his own single-game San Francisco record for carries that he had set earlier in the season, and collected 349 yards and three touchdowns over the course of the afternoon as Lincoln (12-1) opened up a three-score lead, then held on late despite a strong push from the Panthers. Senior quarterback Daquan Paul tried to lead a late comeback for Gardena (11-5), scoring on a 30-yard touchdown run and catching a break when Kwanta Pugh recovered his fumble in the end zone, but the lead would stay at two scores as the Panthers failed to convert extra points after each touchdown.
While Contreras’ performance was remarkable, Ferrigno was quick to note the efforts of all the seniors on the squad. “The linemen we have, Nick Walker at tight end, Leo (Gallegos) and Sikoti (Manumua), they brought it together and Luis ran behind them,” Ferrigno said. “Our offensive line and our defense dominated the whole year.”
With San Francisco teams now winning three state titles in a row —Lincoln in 2018 and Galileo in 2017 —could city teams find themselves competing in higher divisions in following years? It’s certainly possible. Across the Bay, McClymonds jumped from Division 4-AA to 2-A this year, though the Warriors did play a killer non-league schedule.
“We compete well and try to put city football in a good light, and hopefully people see that,” Ferrigno commented. “We play hard and we play clean.”
Riordan finishes third at Gridley: The Riordan Crusaders finished third at the Gridley Invitational for the second straight year, falling to eventual champion Dublin in the semifinals but beating defending state champion Campolindo in the third-place game, 76-62. Bryce Monroe had a monster game in the win over the Cougars, with 30 points in the first half as part of his 44-point night. He shot 18-of-25 en route to earning the distinction as the top scorer in the entire basketball tournament, and he was named to the All-Tournament Team along with teammate Je’Lani Clark.
SHC wins shootout: Sacred Heart Cathedral’s boys basketball team improved to 3-0 with a wild win on Saturday, returning from Antioch triumphant after a 78-76 victory over Deer Valley. Tyrice Ivy Jr. sank the winning free throws in the final seconds to cap off a 19-point, 13-rebound night after sophomore Ray John Spears (formerly known as Ray John Jackson) took a charge on the prior possession to stop the Wolverines from taking the lead. Spears had 25 points and eight rebounds while Kyle Crawford added 13. Kori McCoy had nine points and eight assists for the Irish, who will travel to San Leandro on Friday.
Back-to-back thrillers for SI: St. Ignatius’ young basketball team got a taste of nail-biting action this weekend, losing to Sacred Heart Prep on Friday after squandering a late five-point lead, falling 63-62. The Wildcats turned it around on Saturday, beating University 65-60 in overtime behind 20 points from Malcolm McCray-Hill and 12 from sophomore GianCarlo Rivera.
Mission takes consolation bracket at Mark Madsen Invitational: Even with injuries and illnesses still leaving the Mission Bears shorthanded, they managed to win the consolation bracket at San Ramon Valley’s Mark Madsen Invitational. Point guard Andre Villarino only played in the opening game of the tournament, an 87-85 loss to Stockton-Edison, and junior forward Julian Neal missed all three games, but the Bears won their next two games, 64-47 over Turlock-Pitman and 78-70 over Pittsburg to win the consolation championship. Just five Bears scored in the victory over Pittsburg, but all reached double-figures. Sophomore Maurice Oliver scored a game-high 19, Matt Cohn had 18 points and 18 rebounds, Noah Lee and Taariq Norbert each finished with 15 and Reggie Torno had 11. Norbert also dropped 27 in the loss to Edison.
Lick-Wilmerding wins Cardinal Classic: Lick-Wilmerding won the Lowell Cardinal Classic for the fifth year in a row, defeating the tournament hosts in the championship game for a fourth consecutive year, 50-46. The Tigers also won a thriller over Jefferson in the semifinals, erasing an 11-point deficit to win 58-57.
Back-to-back road wins for Galileo hoops: The Galileo Lions stopped their three-game losing streak on Monday with a 49-45 win over Westmoor, getting 15 points from Asa Mobley and holding the Rams to 4-of-28 shooting from the field in the second half. They followed that up on Tuesday with a 53-45 win at Gateway.
Five City teams to play in Buccaneer Invitational: Balboa is hosting the 7th Annual Buccaneer Invitational this weekend, with five of the eight participants coming from San Francisco. The hosts will take on Burton in the 5 p.m. contest on Thursday, preceded by Wallenberg’s game against Oakland Military Institute. Galileo faces Corona at 6:30 and defending champion Lick-Wilmerding takes on Yreka in the nightcap.