It wasn’t the way anyone drew it up, but the Stuart Hall Knights are BCL West Tournament champions for the second year in a row.
Having finished second in the league and battling a handful of injuries, the Knights entered the semifinals facing an uphill battle, and after a 60-50 win over San Domenico to reach the title game, the road got even tougher.
Sure, Urban knocked off regular season league champion University in the semifinals, but Stuart Hall had to suspend three would-be starters and a key bench player for the game against Urban for a violation of team rules.
Between those suspensions and the injuries already hampering them, they entered Saturday night’s game at Kezar Pavilion with just one regular starter and a JV callup who had seen just one prior quarter of varsity action at point guard.
With the odds against them and every reason to fold with just eight players suited up, including two who were just returning from injuries and were still at less than full strength, Stuart Hall (20-7) still managed to go up by as much as 13 points and hold on down the stretch for a 51-50 win.
“Every kid who got on that floor tonight gave me everything they had,” head coach Charley Johnson said after the victory. “I really wanted that one, I think they sensed that, and they really wanted it too. I made a comment, if somehow we could pull it off it would be one of the best wins for us in a long time. Just insanely happy for the guys.”
Kyle Jasper scored 16 points to lead the Knights and Jackson Jung, the point guard who came up from the JV team and started on Saturday, had seven points, three assists and made some clutch defensive plays, contesting the final shot as Urban (18-10) took a jumper from the lane that hit the back of the rim and bounced away as time expired.
“I wasn’t worried about him in the slightest,” Johnson said of Jung. “He’s a little baller.”
In addition to Jung’s big game, Stuart Hall also got 10 points apiece from Luke Moore and Josh Puccinelli, reserves who were forced into starting roles on Saturday.
The Blues, who had ousted University 69-62 in the semifinals behind exceptional free throw shooting, had one of their worst nights of the year at the line on Saturday, going just 8-for-18.
Lick-Wilmerding completes girls sweep: A perfect run through the regular season wasn’t enough for the Lick-Wilmerding girls, who used a 21-point third quarter to beat Urban 47-34 in the BCL West Championship Game on Saturday night. It marked the second tournament championship in a row for the Tigers, who were powered by Annabel Schneiberg’s 17 points. Lick-Wilmerding (26-1) also got eight points apiece from Ava Grey and center Daisy Maunupau, while Maia Pedrosa led Urban (17-10) with 17. Rain Sheh added 11 for the Blues in the losing effort.
Riordan shares WCAL basketball crown: The Riordan Crusaders enter the postseason with a share of their first WCAL championship since 2007, but having come up short of their first outright league title since 1990, they’ll have some unfinished business to take care of in the Central Coast Section Open Division playoffs, where they’ll be accompanied by fellow tri-champions Bellarmine and Mitty.
Despite coming up short of one of their main goals on the season, the Crusaders still made Tuesday a night to remember as they honored their seven seniors on the roster, including Je’Lani Clark and Bryce Monroe, before a 92-69 win over Sacred Heart Cathedral. Clark scored a career-high 36 points in what could, depending on playoff brackets, be his final game at the Crusader Forum. Riordan (20-4, 11-3 WCAL) finished the game with a flourish as practice squad member Elias Baugh and team manager Dominic Stevens both suited up and appeared in the game, with Stevens knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. Video of his appearance on the floor and the ensuing celebration was posted by SportsCenter to Instagram on Wednesday morning.
After the excitement of Clark’s career game and Stevens’ moment in the spotlight subsides, the Crusaders will need to refocus for the aforementioned Open Division playoffs, which will begin on Friday with quarterfinal games held in the San Jose area. The championship is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 28 at 8 p.m., to be played at Stanford’s Maples Pavilion.
SHC wins first WCAL soccer crown: History was made on Tuesday afternoon at Beach Chalet as Sacred Heart Cathedral won a share of its first WCAL soccer championship in program history with a 4-0 win over Bellarmine. Alex Bonville scored just nine minutes in, and second-half goals by Dylan Rogers, Killian Folan and Diego Grande turned the game into a rout, ensuring the Fightin’ Irish and Bells would finish as league co-champions with identical records of 10-2-2. Three-time defending league champion St. Ignatius saw its title run come to an end, finishing in fifth at 6-6-2.