BOYS BASKETBALL: RIORDAN, DLS PLAY OT GAMES AT CRYPTO
The Coastal Catholic Classic, played over the weekend on the home court of the Los Angeles Lakers, was a marathon experience for two of the Bay Area’s top boys basketball teams.
Archbishop Riordan had a better ending than De La Salle as the San Francisco powerhouse outlasted Bishop Gorman-Las Vegas 82-81 in overtime on Saturday behind 28 points from Andrew Hilman.
De La Salle closed out the high-profile showcase with a gut-wrenching 74-70 double-overtime loss to Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks, last season’s Division I state champion.
Notre Dame got 39 points from Houston-bound star Mercy Miller as it improved to 17-0 while dropping DLS to 13-3.
De La Salle led by nine points at halftime but trailed by one going to the fourth quarter.
Earlier in the day, Riordan was resilient in its victory.
Hilman made the game-winner with 16 seconds left, capping a late flurry in which the sophomore guard scored 11 points in the fourth quarter and OT.
Jasir Rencher (17 points), Zion Sensley (13 points) and Dorde Curcic (10 points) also scored in double figures for the Crusaders, who needed every one of them to turn back a team led by the late Kobe Bryant’s nephew, Jett Washington.
Washington, a sophomore forward, made a 3-pointer with one second left in regulation to extend the game an extra four minutes. He finished with 33 points for a team that returned home from Los Angeles with a 13-3 record.
Riordan (7-3) stretched its winning streak to four games.
As for De La Salle, it has played five games in Southern California against elite opponents the past two weeks. The Spartans, ranked No. 2 by the Bay Area News Group, are 2-3 in those games.
Alec Blair scored 22 points for DLS on Saturday.
DLS falls in double OT to undefeated Notre Dame-Sherman Oaks 74-70 on the home floor of the #Lakers pic.twitter.com/qWpX87rvwr
— Darren Sabedra (@DarrenSabedra) January 7, 2024
De La Salle has no time to sulk. The Spartans open East Bay Athletic League play at home on Tuesday against Monte Vista, which will bring a 15-1 record into the game.
Riordan travels to Serra on Tuesday for a West Catholic Athletic League game.
– Darren Sabedra
BOYS BASKETBALL: NEW COACH LEADS RED-HOT BRANHAM
Nearly a quarter-century ago, Jason Billie was a first-team all-Mercury News player out of Milpitas High. This season, as a first-year head coach at Branham, he is building a case for more postseason honors.
His Bruins are 13-1 overall and 2-0 in the Blossom Valley Athletic League’s top division – the Mt. Hamilton – after they rallied on the road to edge Christopher 56-53 on Friday night.
Seniors Ben Lim, Wyatt Sparling, Dasan Poston and Cayden Tanger have led the way.
“I have four really good seniors who can all play college basketball, probably junior college basketball,” Billie said. “They are all different.”
Here is the coach’s breakdown:
Lim: “No. 4, 6-4 guard. Really coming into his own. Athletic, 4.0 student. He’s getting really good.”
Sparling: “Red head. Shooter, Super skilled. Just young. Big-shot maker, big-shot taker, not scared of the moment.”
Poston: “Junior of the year in our league last year. He is very soft-spoken but plays incredibly angry with a motor.”
Tanger: “Toughness and confidence. We kind of follow his lead. He brings a steadiness over our team. He’s super consistent.”
Billie had been the lead assistant at West Valley College under Danny Yoshikawa. The West Valley teams he helped lead were highly successful.
“We were a state championship runner-up; we were Elite Eight the last couple of years,” Billie said. “We were pretty good.”
Why leave for Branham?
“I was a finalist for two head-coaching college jobs that I did not get,” Billie said. “At the moment, I didn’t have my Master’s done. At the moment, I had no head-coaching experience. Only 12 years as a lead assistant.”
Billie met with Yoshikawa, his mentor, and they contemplated the options: Stay at West Valley or take the high school job.
“It kind of worked out perfectly and organically,” Billie said about the move to Branham. “I feel like I am the right guy for them, too.”
Is coaching high school boys better than he expected?
“They’re incredible,” Billie said. “They are so funny. I think I am a little spoiled because my guys really want to get good and they allow me to coach them hard. It’s fun. It’s kind of how it should be. I get tremendous support from the parents, from my athletic director. It’s been very pleasant. I know that every job is not like this.”
Branham next plays on Wednesday at Santa Teresa. First place in the Mt. Hamilton will be on the line.
– Darren Sabedra
BOYS BASKETBALL: CAMPO, GRANADA WIN AT SACRAMENTO SHOWCASE
For Granada, it was an uphill climb all game against Sheldon-Sacramento at the Showcase at Capital Christian-Sacramento on Saturday. For Campolindo, it was a gut-check down the stretch after it built a 14-point halftime advantage against the showcase’s host.
When the games ended, both Bay Area teams were on the winning side.
Granada, which trailed until it evened the score 50-50, went on to win 57-52 to improve to 13-1 on the season.
Campolindo held off Capital Christian 58-56 for its 13th victory in 16 games this season.
NaVaughn Long scored 16 points and Cortevious Taylor added 10 points to lead Granada.
Campo got 27 points from Dylan Mansour.
– Darren Sabedra
GIRLS BASKETBALL: WHAT HAPPENED TO PALO ALTO?
Scott Peters’ decision to step down as Palo Alto’s longtime girls basketball coach after last season, primarily to watch his son play at Lincoln, has had a huge impact on one of the Central Coast Section’s top public school programs.
The Vikings are 0-13 this season after falling to Los Altos 50-6 last week.
That is a stunning decline for a team that made the CCS Open Division playoffs in each of the past three seasons.
In addition to losing key players to graduation, including Peters’ daughter, two underclassmen from last season’s team transferred to Priory and another left for Pinewood.
Peters coached the Vikings for 18 seasons, leading them to CCS Division I titles in 2011, 2016 and 2017 and 10 trips to the NorCal regionals.
His overall record at Palo Alto was 313-144.
— Darren Sabedra
FOOTBALL: COACHING CHANGES
Miramonte: Jack Schram is out as the Orinda school’s head coach after 13 years.
The school announced that Schram was let go after the season, one in which he led the Matadors to the North Coast Section Division V championship, the program’s first section title since 2013.
In a text to the Bay Area News Group on Friday, Schram said he was surprised by the move.
“Just said they wanted to go in a new direction with new leadership,” Schram wrote on Friday.
Sequoia: Rob Poulos stepped down as the Ravens’ coach last month after 15 years with the school and 30 overall. Poulos, who went 82-64, led the Ravens to three section playoff appearances, including the Central Coast Section Division II championship game in 2010.
“The last two years, I’ve been exhausted,” Poulos told the San Mateo Daily Journal. “You don’t want to get out there where you’re just going through the motions.”
Aragon: Ash Parham will be the first man not named Steve Sell to coach Aragon in 20 years Sell stepped down in November. Parham graduated from the school in 1999.
– Joseph Dycus
FOOTBALL: WEDEMEYER CLASSIC
The Charlie Wedemeyer Santa Clara County All-Star Football Game will be held on Feb. 3 at Los Gatos High.
Christopher’s Darren Yafai, who led the Gilroy school to the Central Coast Section Division II final this past season, will coach the South.
Archbishop Mitty’s Danny Sullivan will lead the North.
Yafai retired from high school coaching at the end of the season, which included a first-round upset of Sullivan’s top-seeded Monarchs.
“Couple of truly legit coaches,” Los Gatos coach Mark Krail told the Bay Area News Group on Friday.
The long-running game is for graduating seniors from Santa Clara County schools.
Bay Area News Group player of the year Jaylen Thomas of Los Gatos, all-BANG receiver Jason Auzenne of Palo Alto and all-WCAL lineman Rayne Mayo Jr. of Valley Christian are among the seniors expected to play.
The game is named in honor of Wedemeyer, a former Los Gatos coach who died in 2010 after a decades-long battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease.
– Joseph Dycus
SOFTBALL: MT. EDEN COACH STEPS DOWN
Nick Sanchez stepped down as Mt. Eden’s softball coach on Wednesday.
Sanchez, 69, went 111-54 and won three league titles in 10 seasons at the Hayward school. He took over a program that had gone 19-196 in the previous decade before he arrived.
“When I came to this school, my goal was to be competitive and for them to have something to play for,” Sanchez told the Bay Area News Group on Friday. “The one thing I can say is that nobody takes Mt. Eden lightly anymore.”
Sanchez said he is in good health, but wants to relax, citing the rigors of being a head coach.
The softball lifer, who was also a head coach at Tennyson and Hayward before taking the Mt. Eden job, said he’s ready for time off.
“I want to do things,” Sanchez said. “It’s been a good long run.”
Sanchez said that assistant coach Derrick Blue, son of late A’s and Giants legend Vida Blue, is a candidate to replace him.
– Joseph Dycus