Sacred Heart Prep coach Tony Martinelli has never bashed the CIF-State’s expanded football playoff bowl system, but if he’s not ga-ga over it, can he be blamed? The Gator basketball team, with star multi-sport athletes Andrew Daschbach, Mason Randall, Kyle Stalder, Justin Harmon and Nick O’Donnell tied up until almost January, staggered out of the gate and were 1-7 at one point during non-league before righting themselves.
“I love our football program,” Martinelli said. “I think it’s great it can play at that (state) level, I just think that if they’re going to play 17 games I’d like to see them play a team at the end that’s closer to their division instead of having 1,400 students (SHP has fewer than 700).”
Despite the loss by SHP in the football state bowl title game and his team’s slow start, the basketball Gators (9-7, 7-0) are in a familiar position in the WBAL – first place following a 75-40 win Tuesday night against Woodside Priory. Stalder led SHP with 21 points and Randall had 19. Also, Randall and O’Donnell did a nice job switching off on guarding Priory’s high-scoring Scotty Harris (18 points).
“When you’re 1-7 you’re starting to question everything you’re doing and we were questioning the kids a little bit too,” Martinelli said. “We needed some broad shoulders to stand on so we could dig out of the hole.”
The Gators’ key league win came against neighboring foe Menlo School when it rallied from 22 points down to win.
“You don’t want to be 22 points down in a rivalry game with all those people in the gym,” Martinelli said. “But we felt like Menlo had played about as well as it could in the first half and we hadn’t played up to our standards and we came back and got it done.”
Menlo, with no big men left on its roster for a variety of reasons, climbed over .500 in league by defeating The Harker School 66-49 Tuesday night. Jared Lucian led the Knights with 18 points and Charlie Roth added 13. Looks like Knight coach Keith Larsen is rounding his team into form in time for his 60th birthday in a few weeks.
DROUGHT OVER: Valley Christian managed a huge upset victory on Tuesday night, stunning Bellarmine College Prep 61-56 in overtime. The Warrior victory snapped VC’s 31-game WCAL losing streak.
Santos led Valley Christian with 23 points, Sokol had 18, Conrad eight and Miles Kendrick six. Angelo Athens paced Bellarmine with 11 points.
“(Tuesday) night’s win was a great step for our program,” Valley Christian coach Ryan Cooper said. “We’ve adopted a mentality of ‘one day at a time.’ I think all year we’ve been putting good days together and (Tuesday) night we showed that we can battle through adversity and close out a game in the WCAL. I’m excited to see our student body coming to games for support. Best part about (Tuesday) night’s win was we had three juniors and a sophomore on the floor at the end. The future is bright at VC.”
PANTHERS STILL ROLLING: Prospect is steaming toward a possible BVAL-Mt. Hamilton title, though it has a big game tonight against visiting Piedmont Hills. The Panthers on Tuesday night defeated Leigh 76-56.
"So far, so good," Prospect coach Mike Furlong said. "Our two big guys Lukas Swidler and Nemanja Rajik have been mainstays -- they're both averaging about 17 points a game and our point guard Blake Uyehara has really been a key cog for us -- a guy who makes everything go. There are games where he only scores four or five points but we look at the game film and say 'Boy it's good we have him.'"
Uyehara can fill it up, too, though; he's averaging 11.4 points per game, while Swidler is taking 13.4 rebounds a contest.
Furlong, in his 14th year as the coach, said this is probably the best team he's had, though the 2014 edition went 21-5 and had three first-team all-leaguers." This year's key seniors were sophomores on the 2014 squad.
RETURN TO NORMALCY: Half Moon Bay had an atypical game Friday night when it got only 17 points combined from its big three of Tommy Nuno, Austin Hilton and Jake Salinero in a win against Terra Nova. Tuesday the trio was back on note, combining for 40 points in a 76-40 win against visiting Jefferson – 16 from Hilton and Nuno and eight from Salinero.
Asked if Tuesday night's effort was more like what he expects, HMB coach Rich Forsland deadpanned "Unfortunately, yes."
SURF’S UP: The only thing missing Tuesday night at St. Ignatius was the duo of Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello as the host Wildcats and Serra went at it in the Beach Game – SI’s answer to the Jungle Game played between the schools in San Mateo.
SI led by as many as eight points against a misfiring Serra team hindered by the absence of star forward Jake Killingsworth, a Columbia commit who was ill. The Wildcat fans situated behind Serra’s basket in the first half made their presence felt too as the Wildcats managed a five-point lead after 16 minutes.
“I liked the atmosphere,” said Serra 7-foot-center Jack Wilson, whose sister is an SI grad. “Their student section was going at it.”
Henry Little was scoring inside for SI and finished with 10 points and the Wildcats also got a lift from Jack Coulter who made three three-pointers and Will Emery (seven points).
But Serra finished the game on a 13-0 to pull away, led by Jeremiah Testa (19 points), Lee Jones (11 points), Miles Tozdo (11 points) and Wilson (12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks). Wilson also had a dunk. Serra (14-3, 6-1) hosts St. Francis on Friday night in a key game.
MONARCHS RISE TO OCCASION: It’s hard to fathom Archbishop Mitty (9-8, 4-3) played without its two top players in Ben Kone (knee) and Nick LaBruna (shoulder) and stayed right with first-place St. Francis (15-2, 7-0), but that’s what happened Tuesday night in a 62-60 Lancer win. Sophomore Logan Johnson won it for St. Francis with a lay-in with 6.1 seconds left.
Said Mitty coach Tim Kennedy by email: “The whole team competed well and we had major contributions from Mike Diaz (20 points, eight rebounds), Matt Hicks (nine points), Elijah Wedlow and Kyle Peterson (eight points each) and Riley Grigsby (seven points). St. Francis made a few more plays down the stretch.”
Unfortunately for Mitty, Kone's subsequent MRI of the knee revealed a torn MCL and he's done for the season and for his Mitty career, as first reported Wednesday by the San Jose Mercury. The Monarchs, now without Kone, will need more gutsy play from their holdover players and if anyone can squeeze it out of them it figures to be Kennedy, the former Serra High and Loyola-Marymount University star.
Meantime, SF keeps rolling, getting 15 points Tuesday night from Johnson and 14 from Guiseppe Benedetti.
John Murphy is the Web Content Manager of Prep2Prep. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @PrepCat