SAN MATEO — If the Serra Padres were using Saturday’s game against St. Francis as a rehearsal for Wednesday’s Jungle Game against St. Ignatius, it went off without a hitch.
From the pregame theatrics with glow sticks, a fog machine and bagpipes to a scorching-hot shooting performance in the first half, the Padres excelled in every aspect and rolled to a 70-50 win.
Not only was the win over the Lancers an appetizer for Wednesday, it also starts a stretch where Serra will play four of its final six games at home, as they make a push for the WCAL title. They currently sit one game back of Mitty and Riordan.
It’s the rival Lancers who can be given some of the credit for bringing Serra back into the race, as St. Francis stunned Riordan on Wednesday. That team certainly didn’t make the trip to Morton Family Gymnasium on Saturday, as the Lancers never led and trailed by as much as 23.
Serra (14-5, 6-3 WCAL) scored the game’s first six points, setting the crowd off with an impressive Cade Rees steal and dunk, and broke things open with a 21-2 run in the second quarter after St. Francis had tied the game at 18. Rees scored a game-high 15 points, while point guard Parker McDonald added 13 and finished with six assists.
As good as both Rees and McDonald were for the Padres, it was depth of scoring that largely fueled the run in the second quarter. The Padres retook the lead on a basket by Dominic Bartlewski, then got a charge called on Oscar Pedraza at the other end, which the entire St. Francis contingent and a good portion of the Serra crowd expected to be called an and-1. That seemed to completely tilt the game in the hosts’ favor, with a tip-in by Rees of his own miss and back-to-back threes by Rees and McDonald opening up a 10-point lead. Pedraza banked in a mid-range jumper to answer, but Ryan Wilson, who comes off the bench for less than 10 minutes a night, then hit threes on consecutive possessions.
“My teammates just got me the ball and I was able to spot up,” Wilson said. “Their gameplan was to key in on Parker and Cade, and it was up to us role players to get past them.”
After a foolish goaltend by the Lancers made it 36-20, another reserve, Patrick Simon, then made one of the most acrobatic plays of the night, diving to save a ball that was headed out-of-bounds before hitting a three at the other end.
“I’ve been trying to take on a bigger role this year,” said Simon, who also served as a wide receiver and defensive back on Serra’s football team. “I like to bring intensity to this team, and my main goal is to just come in and defend. Our slogan is ‘Defend or Die,’ and that’s what I go by.”
The run finally ended when St. Francis (11-8, 3-6) got a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer from Kyle Rosecrans, who scored a team-high 13 off the bench, but the damage was done. Serra went 9-for-12 from 3-point range in the first half, eliciting numerous calls from PA announcer Bruce Anthony, who was recognized before the game for his 41 years of service. Anthony retired from teaching this past year, but continues to maintain his post at the scorers’ table.
A Rosecrans three early in the third cut the Serra lead to 39-28, but Cooper Fitz, who attends Serra despite living within a mile of St. Francis, answered with a 3-pointer of his own to restore momentum. The lead was never less than 19 in the final six minutes, and six late points from 6-foot-9 junior Muti Shuman, who hardly saw meaningful time as Serra had to counter a small Lancer lineup, helped provide the final margin.
Matt Larson scored 11 for the Lancers, who got just 19 points from their starters. The St. Francis fans were particularly incensed when one of the glow sticks was thrown from the Serra student section and hit one of the Lancers’ players on their way into the locker room at halftime.
Mitty 71, St. Ignatius 61: Devan Sapp scored a game-high 31 points as the hot-shooting Monarchs dropped SI below .500 in WCAL play. St. Ignatius (8-11, 4-5) still needs three more wins to qualify for the postseason, and with Sapp’s huge night and 19 points from Marcus Greene, Mitty (13-6, 7-2) ensured the Wildcats wouldn’t sweep the season series. SI got 21 points from Wrenn Robinson, 13 off the bench from Daniel Webster and nine from Neal Begovich.
Riordan 90, Valley Christian 52: Bryce Monroe responded to one of his worst shooting performances of the year by turning in one of his best, hitting three of five 3-point attempts and going 8-for-12 overall as the Crusaders maintained a tie for first place in the WCAL. Riordan (14-5, 7-2) led 41-28 at halftime and 69-43 through three quarters behind five double-digit scorers. Monroe had 20, Je’Lani Clark finished with 15, Justice Turner added 13, Riiny Riiny chipped in 11 off the bench and Chimae Ugbaja had 10. Valley Christian (10-9, 1-8) got 21 from Jay Allen-Tovar and nine from Skylar Loving-Black.
Bellarmine 56, Sacred Heart Cathedral 45: The Bells avenged an earlier loss to the Fightin’ Irish by taking care of business at home. Kiran Kruse, who missed the first meeting with the flu, led Bellarmine (15-4, 6-3) with 16 points while Quinn Denker added 11. Sacred Heart Cathedral (9-10, 2-7) got 10 points from Osin McCormack and nine apiece from Cedric Reed Jr. and Oscar Cheng.
Stuart Hall 73, Vanden 44: The Knights opened the fourth quarter on a 21-0 run to pick up a signature win over one of the Sac-Joaquin Section’s marquee teams at the Crush in the Valley, a prestigious showcase event held over the weekend at Solano College. Nigel Burris scored 22 for Stuart Hall (19-4) and Miles Amos added 19. Vanden (16-7) got a game-high 24 points from 6-foot-5 junior Teiano Hardee, who hit six 3-pointers.
Urban 56, Lick-Wilmerding 45: After a pregame ceremony to retire Jené Morris’ jersey, Urban used a 16-6 third quarter to take control on Saturday night and snap a four-game head-to-head skid against the Tigers. The Blues (8-15, 3-5 BCL West) got a game-high 19 points from sophomore Bryce Smith, 13 from Ryan Pescherine and 12 from Henry Schneidberg. Allen Wilson scored 17 for Lick-Wilmerding (16-7, 2-5), but center Zach Johnson was held to just 10. The Lick-Wilmerding girls won the preceding game, 57-51.