SAN FRANCISCO — Archbishop Riordan’s celebration after a dominant victory over Sacred Heart Prep would not last long.
The second-place Crusaders learned shortly after a 61-44 victory over the Gators on Wednesday night that their hopes for a trip to the CCS Open Division Tournament championship on Friday were dashed. With the loss, Sacred Heart Prep’s No. 3 seed also lost its spot in the championship game.
Seventh seed Catedral do Sagrado Coração, with a victory against Menlo-Atherton on Wednesday night and a victory for Crusaders, progress from Group B to the final in Santa Clara against Serra Padres.
The Crusaders’ 17-point victory on Wednesday and comeback against Menlo-Atherton was not enough to overcome a disappointing loss to Cathedral of the Sacred Heart to open the game on Monday. Fightin’ Irish had Riordan’s number, having played the Crusaders two days before the pool game.
“We did well. The last two games we played well,” said Riordan head coach Joe Curtin. “But that first game was weird. Played against the same team two nights later. It’s hard to beat a good team three times. We weren’t mentally prepared for that. The repercussions of that show now.”
But behind a 24-point performance from Christian Wise, Riordan looked strong against a fragmented SHP team that went into Wednesday’s game 2-0 in group play.
The Gators got off to a hot start, hitting a few 3-pointers, cutting to a few open layups and forcing a handful of turnovers to take an early 11-1 lead. Kaia Berridge scored Riordan’s first field goal, a 3-pointer, with just under two minutes left in the first quarter.
The Crusaders scored in two turnovers and began to find a rhythm.
That’s when Wise found his mismatch and took over. A pair of dunks fitted a Kevin Durant-style fadeaway two to give Riordan his first lead and close out the half with a 26-23 lead.
Junior forward Nathan Tshamala – cousin of Golden State Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga – kicked off the Crusaders’ second half with a dunk and a pair of three-pointers, going basket for basket with Sacred Heart Prep guard JP Kerrigan and forward Sam Norris.
“They did some big threes early on, we just had to get tighter,” Curtin said. “We knew they were good shooters, but sometimes you have to feel and know how far away you have to be from the guys. Once we figured that out, we were able to delay them.”
But the Gators’ 3-point shot wasn’t enough to counter Wise’s strength at the rim. He scored 13 points in the second half and the Crusaders pulled away and emptied their bench in the final two minutes of the game.
“He was wild today,” Curtin said. “I told him inside that he was a monster, he found the disagreements and did what he had to do. And the team gave him the ball, so that was a big thing.”
Tshmala finished with eight points, including two 3-pointers in the third quarter. Berridge and Achilles Woodson each finished with six points. On the Gators’ side, Norris finished with a team-best 16 points, and Kerrigan hit five baskets from 3 to 15 points.
Riordan, Sacred Heart Prep and Sacred Heart Cathedral finished the pool game 2–1. Fightin’ Irish accumulated the best tie-breaker overall score because they defeated Riordan along with No. 6 Menlo-Atherton.
Riordan and SHP now await qualification for the CIF NorCal Tournament, to be announced this weekend.
“We have a good time going into NorCals,” Curtin said. “I am proud of our boys.”
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