The St. Ignatius Wildcats opened their basketball season with a comfortable Tuesday night victory, rolling past Oakland-Fremont 72-39 in a game that finished with a running clock before upping the degree of difficulty on their schedule tremendously in the coming weeks.
The Wildcats will face two of Eastern Washington’s best teams this weekend when they head to Spokane for the Fitz Tournament, a trip they’ll be making in conjunction with the girls’ team. In their opener, they used a 19-2 run to close the first quarter and rolled from there against an undermanned Tigers squad that’s struggled to retain players despite head coach Scot Alexander’s best efforts.
With an intensified press following a mid-first quarter timeout, St. Ignatius (1-0) hounded Fremont up and down the court to create easy turnovers and transition baskets no matter who was on the floor. The ‘Cats got a team-high 12 points from freshman King-Jhsanni Wilhite and 11 apiece from seniors Daniel Webster and Danny Ryan, with Ryan showcasing the same speed he used throughout his time on the football field in the fall. He was named the WCAL’s Receiver of the Year, and his transition from the gridiron back to the hardwood got off to a promising start.
Perhaps the most striking presence on the court, though, was that of Malcolm McCray-Hill, who threw down three dunks as the Wildcats pulled away, leading a group that often had Wilhite and a pair of sophomores, Rory Kenneally and GianCarlo Rivera, on the floor.
“They play hard and they listen,” he said of the underclassmen. “I really appreciate that, because when I came up, I didn’t respond to criticism very well.”
The Wildcats rolled even without Zach Taylor-Smith, who has yet to play after battling illness over the past weeks.
Marlo Lopez scored a game-high 25 for the Tigers, who will return to the Sunset District at the end of the month to play in the Leo LaRocca Sand Dune Classic.