SAN FRANCISCO — Riordan entered Saturday’s game against Bellarmine on a two-game losing streak and came in with the knowledge that their hopes for their first WCAL title since 2007 were over, but they still managed to come away with a 54-42 win despite the Bells slowing the game down.
“They’re really good at making you play their game,” Riordan head coach Joey Curtin said. “That we withstood that and still came out on top is satisfying. It was one of our best defensive efforts of the year.”
Riordan (16-7, 9-4 WCAL) is a team that likes to get out and run, trying to get the final score into the 80s, and while the Bells did a tremendous job impeding that, the hosts were still able to win by playing some great defense of their own.
The Crusaders held Bellarmine (17-6, 8-5) to just three points in the second quarter and five in the fourth, with those final points coming on a Jackson Dupree 3-pointer after both teams had emptied the benches. For the game, the second-ranked Bells shot just 25.5% from the field, and their offensive numbers would have been miniscule if not for a 15-for-18 showing at the free throw line.
“We ran three different defenses, and I was happy with all of them,” Bellarmine head coach Patrick Schneider said. “It was six bad possessions off of shots and five off of passes that sped the score up a bit.”
The Bells managed to hold Je’Lani Clark to 13 points and Bryce Monroe to eight, but the fourth-ranked Crusaders got 10 huge points from Donte Henderson to take control. A 3-pointer by Kiran Kruse, who scored nine of his 12 points in the third quarter, gave Bellarmine a 35-33 lead, but Clark tied the game with a transition layup and Henderson put the hosts back in front with an and-1.
“I was just looking for any open opportunity to score,” Henderson said. “I was able to get their bigger guys to go up in the air on fakes.”
Henderson also delivered an and-1 with a jump stop in the lane midway through the fourth to open up a 45-37 lead.
Clark, who was visibly frustrated with his shooting on a night where he went 5-for-10 from the field and just 2-of-6 at the line, did manage to throw down a one-handed dunk in the first quarter and made it 40-35 in the third with a two-handed rip off a steal.
“Getting rebounds and going out in transition was key,” he said. The junior had a game-high 13 rebounds, including six in the first quarter alone.
Justice Turner scored nine for the Crusaders, who led 26-15 at halftime after holding Bellarmine scoreless for the first 6:36 of the second quarter. Bellarmine point guard Quinn Denker led all scorers with 15 and scored the Bells’ lone field goal in that quarter, and he scored 10 in the third.
Starting center Constantijn Cole and Cole Troedson, who made a cameo in the starting lineup at guard, both suffered ankle injuries for Bellarmine in the fourth quarter. Troedson had injured his other ankle in the fall and missed six weeks.
No. 8 St. Ignatius 55, No. 9 St. Francis 38
With a third straight win, the Wildcats are officially playoff-bound. St. Ignatius (11-12, 7-6) secured a .500 league record by allowing just 15 points in the first half and only 13 for the whole night to players not named Matteo Fontana, who scored a game-high 25 for St. Francis (12-11, 4-9). SI got 24 from Wrenn Robinson and 17 from Neal Begovich.
No. 12 Sacred Heart Cathedral 82, No. 13 Valley Christian 71
The Irish may have won on Valley’s Senior Night, but the highlight of the game was the basket by Warriors manager D.A. Lang, who scored just before halftime to cut the SHC lead to three. While team managers occasionally get to score an honorary basket on Senior Night where the defenses let the manager take a free path to the hoop, Lang’s was a hard-earned drive to the hoop through two defenders.
Sacred Heart Cathedral (10-13, 3-10) snapped a five-game skid by outscoring the Warriors 28-11 in the third quarter. The Fightin’ Irish got 21 points from Cedric Reed Jr., 15 from Oscar Cheng and 12 from Elijah Flowers, while Colin McCulloch scored 22 for Valley Christian (10-13, 1-12). Jay Allen-Tovar had 21 points and 12 rebounds, while D’Von Lang, D.A.’s brother, scored 10.