In the feature game of the De La Salle Martin Luther King Classic held at Cal’s Haas Pavilion in Berkeley, Bishop O’Dowd of Oakland shows it’s the best in Northern California with an 86-60 triumph over Capital Christian of Sacramento.
Since the Bishop O’Dowd boys basketball team went to overtime and nearly beat defending CIF Open Division state champion Mater Dei of Santa Ana at the Tarkanian Classic in December, thoughts of the Dragons getting a rematch in the CIF Open Division final this March have been hard to ignore.
Heading into Monday’s game against Capital Christian of Sacramento at the MLK Classic, however, almost everyone had Capital Christian ranked No. 1 in Northern California, including MaxPreps, SportStars and NorCalPreps.
In the CalHiSports rankings, however, O’Dowd was the higher ranked team and showed it was without question the superior team on Monday with the easy win over Capital Christian.Ivan Rabb, O’Dowd’s big-time 6-foot-9 junior, also was a much more dominating presence than Capital Christian’s 6-foot-9 senior, D.J. Wilson, who is headed to Michigan. Rabb ended with a game-high 31 points and had 10 rebounds. Wilson had eight points and seven rebounds.
The Dragons (10-4) took control early, with Rabb scoring six straight points in the first quarter for a 16-7 lead. A 10-0 run in the second quarter pushed the advantage to 16 points. Capital Christian never cut it to less than 10 for the rest of the game.
“We had a good workout yesterday as a team, then came out today and just played well,” Rabb said. “We can beat anybody if we all play well.”
O’Dowd guards, who were inconsistent in the two big preseason tourneys the team played in, were both rock-solid against the Cougars. Senior Juwan Anderson scored three early baskets and finished with 16 points. Junior Paris Austin didn’t shoot especially well but still knocked down 14 points.
“Ivan and Paris proved they could play with the best against Mater Dei, but today it showed that the rest of the team could play at an elite, elite level,” said Bishop O’Dowd head coach Lou Richie. “A lot has to happen before we can think about (the open division). Right now, we just want to win the next two league games this week.”
While Wilson didn’t have a good game for the Cougars, senior guard Uchenna Iroegbu did. He led the team in scoring with 19 points.
The loss will hurt Capital Christian (15-3) in the rankings, but the team may not lose for the rest of the season, could then easily win the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Division V title and then could still get picked for the CIF Open Division Northern California playoffs.
In other early games played at the MLK Classic:
Sacramento 68, Salesian (Richmond) 61
After Jesuit of Carmichael and Capital Christian of Sacramento took it on the chin in earlier games, the Dragons (13-4) staged a huge fourth quarter comeback to knock off the Pride and salvage some CIF Sac-Joaquin Section pride. Salesian (10-8) led 52-43 after three quarters, based mostly on the outside shooting of junior Bernard Ward, who finished with a game-high 29 points. But Sacramento scored nine in a row to start the final quarter. Then after Ward scored for Salesian, Solomon Young and Tre Finch connected for three-points, then Christian Terrell scored another basket as the Dragons surged to a 60-54 lead. Young, Finch and Terrell are all sophomores and are part of a very promising future in Oak Park. The boys still may be a year away from statewide attention, but after that watch out.
Long Beach Poly 44, De La Salle (Concord) 42 (OT)
It was a big week for the Jackrabbits, who knocked off Compton (ranked No. 11 in the state last week) in a Moore League game, then headed north and edged the host Spartans. While De La Salle’s young players (three sophomores play prominent roles) had their moments, junior Ke’Jhan Feagin had the biggest moments. He blocked a shot by DLS sophomore Nikhil Peters at the regulation buzzer, then hit a three-pointer in overtime to give Poly a lead it would never surrender. It was the second straight loss by DLS (10-5), which fell last week in a league game to unbeaten Monte Vista of Danville. The Jackrabbits (13-6) were led by Feagin and senior guard Chris Sullivan with 13 points. Peters had 13 points and six rebounds for the Spartans.
Newark Memorial (Newark) 60, Jesuit (Carmichael) 50
The Marauders were unbeaten at the start of the day and were No. 14 in the state but fell to a Cougars’ squad that has played a difficult schedule and should again be a contender in the CIF North Coast Section D2 playoffs. Matthew Thomas, a 6-foot-8 center, scored 12 points in the third quarter when Newark Memorial (10-7) went on a 18-5 run after trailing 21-20 at halftime. Thomas ended with 20 points. Damien Banford, Newark’s 6-foot-6, 270-pound forward, also made an impact and had 13 points. For Jesuit, Isaiah Bailey had 17 points, including a conventional three-point play with 1:20 left that cut the lead to 55-50. Newark converted from there, however, and ended up with the 10-point win.
El Cerrito 73, Sacred Heart Cathedral (SF) 62
The Gauchos (18-1) looked like one of the top teams in the Bay Area with a solid win over the Irish. Head coach Michael Booker said after the game that the team’s recent loss to St. Joseph Notre Dame helped re-focus the squad on playing hard in every game. Junior guard Tyrel Alcorn had 23 points for the Gauchos, but the team’s other lead guard – senior Anthony Sullen — also shined with 17 points. It wasn’t that long ago when Sacred Heart was ranked among the top 10 of the Bay Area with just one loss to state-ranked Bishop Montgomery. Since then, though, the Irish (11-4) have lost league games to St. Ignatius and Mitty and now have the loss to El Cerrito.
St. Mary’s (Berkeley) 54, Castro Valley 49
The Panthers improved to 15-4 and will have a tough game looming in two days against Salesian of Richmond.