By Harold Abend
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In the marquee game of the 16th Annual De La Salle Martin Luther King Jr. Classic played on Monday at the University of California’a Haas Pavilion — and in the first meeting between the two East Bay Catholic schools in over 20 years — it was state No. 9 Salesian of Richmond that used a 13-0 run to erase a 41-32 lead with 4:32 remaining to post a 47-43 win over the hosts from De La Salle.
When Cal-bound 6-foot-6 forward Jabari Bird hit an NBA-range 3-pointer with 56.5 seconds remaining, Salesian (16-3) had a 44-41 lead, its first since the half ended with the Pride up 21-19.Bird may have hit the big shot, but Montana-bound Mario Dunn was the biggest reason the Pride were able to overcome a six-point third quarter, and escape with a win in a contest in which they were out-rebounded 32-26, and taken out of their game by the grind-it-out style of the Spartans.
The senior guard finished with 15 points (seven rebounds, five assists, three steals), but it was in the fourth quarter that he took charge, scoring 12 of the Pride’s 20 points in the final period.
“We needed to pick it up in the fourth quarter, and I decided to take the lead role in getting us to keep our poise and take back the tempo of the game,” Dunn told Cal-Hi Sports.
“Jabari takes the attention away from Mario, but Mario is the heart and soul of our team,” said Salesian head coach Bill Mellis.
Another player that came up big for the Pride in the fourth quarter was Dante Robinson. The 6-foot-5 senior forward, who was coming off of pneumonia, had five of his seven points and three key rebounds in the games final four minutes.
“I made my stamp on the game by hitting that (three-point) shot, but I got a lot of help tonight,” Bird said. “We weren’t playing together as a team and we needed some clutch shots – and Mario got them.”
When Arizona-bound 6-foot-5 guard Elliott Pitts (game-high 21 points, three 3-pointers, seven rebounds) hit his second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter, and then followed that with a twisting lay-up, the Spartans had a nine-point lead and it looked like the Pride’s goose might be cooked.
“I thought it might be over at that point,” said Mellis of the big late deficit. “Not that we would give up, but with the style of De La Salle we might run out of time.”
It was surprising that according to some sources, these two schools had not met since prior to 1986.
“This is a huge win for our program,” Mellis remarked. “I have the utmost respect for Frank (De La Salle head coach Frank Allocco). He never ducks anyone. I’m honored they selected us.”
In other MLK Day games played at Haas Pavilion on Monday:
Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) 80, Sacramento 71
The No. 12-ranked O’Dowd Dragons (14-3) got all they could handle for two-and-a-half quarters from their namesakes from the state’s capitol.
With the score tied 49-49 midway through the third quarter, O’Dowd went on a 12-4 run to take a 61-53 entering the fourth quarter. From there, Sacramento was unable to get closer than six points.
Ivan Rabb, O’Dowd’s 6-foot-9 forward and the ESPN No. 2 rated sophomore in the nation, scored 20 points in the first half and finished with a double-double 24 points and 13 rebounds, with five blocks, three assists and two steals.
“I’m playing with a lot of energy, and the biggest thing in my game is my energy. It helps with my rebounding and shot blocking,” said Rabb, who has offers from Arizona, Cal, Kansas, North Carolina, North Carolina State, UCLA and Nevada Las Vegas.
Most of the college coaches in attendance, and many members of the media on press row that have covered O’Dowd over the years, including Jimmy Durkin of the Bay Area News Group, agreed that at this stage of his career Rabb is more polished offensively and plays with more with more intensity than Brandon Ashley, the O’Dowd player who finished up his career last season at Findlay Prep in Nevada and is now a freshman at Arizona.
Three other O’Dowd players were in double figure scoring, sophomore guard Paris Austin had 13 points, and Juwan Anderson and Michael Perri chipped in with 11 and 10, respectively.
Sacramento (13-6) got 24 points from Aaron Cameron, 14 from Joe Barnes and 10 from Simi Shelton.
“We’re young and as you witnessed today, we had a lot of turnovers that kept them in the game,” said first year O’Dowd head coach Lou Richie, formerly of Oakland Soldiers fame.
Deer Valley (Antioch) 55, Newark Memorial (Newark) 54
The nightcap of the six-game event saw the state’s No. 15-ranked Wolverines blow a 19-6 first-quarter lead, and survive fourth quarter 5-of-15 free throw shooting in what turned out to be a wild finish.
Trailing 54-53 with 7.5 seconds left and Nevada Las Vegas-bound guard Kendall Smith (11 points) on the bench after fouling out with 1:59 remaining, the Wolverines ran an inbounds play that almost ran afoul.
The inbounds was meant to be a lob to 6-foot-10 Marcus Lee but it hit a defender’s hands and bounced off the rim and right into the hands of reserve Wahied Emran. The senior guard almost traveled in the lane, and then took a dribble before putting up a desperation layup that rolled halfway around the rim before falling through the basket as time expired.
The Kentucky-bound Lee, who was double and triple-teamed the entire game, finished with a double-double 20 points and 17 rebounds, with seven blocks.
Nsimba Webster added 12 points for Deer Valley (15-4) and Smith chipped in with 11 points.
Jo Jo Zamora led Newark Memorial (9-8) with 20 points, including seven in the game’s final three minutes.
“It’s been a long weekend,” said Deer Valley head coach Le Chet Phillips, whose team lost 97-92 to No. 3 Sheldon Saturday night on the road in Sacramento.St. Patrick St. Vincent (Vallejo) 71, Palma (Salinas) 49
The size of St. Patrick St. Vincent (13-8) was more than Palma could handle, particularly with the Chieftains’ 6-foot-6 UCLA-bound senior Noah Allen on the bench with heavy tape protecting a right wrist he broke in December.
Without anyone to stop him inside, the Bruins’ highly-regarded 6-foot-7 junior power forward Jalen Canty had his way and finished with a double-double 23 points and 14 rebounds
“I feel personally I could have played better so far this season but we’re starting to pick it up as a team,” said Canty, who last week received an offer from USF and says he also has offers from Washington, UC Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Boise State and Nevada, and interest from Cal and Arizona.
Two other underclass Bruins turned in solid performances. Junior 6-foot-3 guard Jose Flores had a double-double 14 points and 10 rebounds with five assists, and 6-foot-8 sophomore center Ryan Stewart added 11 points and six rebounds.
Palma (12-4) got 13 points from Jack Tardieu.
Note: Allen told Cal-Hi Sports he will be cleared to play on February 1.
Palo Alto 79, Richmond De Anza 60
The 10:30 a.m. game saw the Vikings go out to a 23-13 first quarter lead and never look back, leading by as many as 31 points in an easy victory.
Aubrey Dawkins, a 6-foot-4 senior forward and the son of Stanford coach Johnny Dawkins, led Palo Alto (16-1) with a game-high 23 points, six rebounds and four steals.
Proving he can be a factor on the hardwood as well as the gridiron, Paly 6-foot-5 quarterback turned center Keller Chryst chipped in with nine rebounds, six blocks and five points.
“We feel we can go pretty far in the playoffs if we stay together and play defense,’ said Dawkins.
With Palo Alto playing in Division I for the playoffs, the Vikings are probably going to be facing off at some point with San Jose Bellarmine in their quest for a CIF Central Coast Section D1 title.
Campolindo (Moraga) 68, Analy (Sebastopol) 39
The Cougars used a 19-10 third quarter run to break open what was a seven-point halftime lead in the 12:15 p.m. contest.
Campolindo (12-5) got a game-high 20 points (three 3-pointers) from highly-regarded 6-foot-3 sophomore sharpshooter Matt O’Reilly. Another Cougars’ standout sophomore, 6-foot-6 center Chris Hansen, chipped in with nine points and nine rebounds.
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