By Mitch Stephens
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Everyone tried to give Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) boys basketball coach Doug Vierra a confidence boost just before his personal matchup with legendary St. Anthony (Jersey City, N.J.) coach Bob Hurley.
“Well, he does have 103 losses,” assistant coach Dante Patterson said. “It’s not like he’s never been beat.”
Vierra just smirked.
“Yeah, and 900-and-something victories,” he said. “Thanks a lot.”
The ‘pep’ talk might have not have comforted Vierra, but something surely fired up the Dragons, who posted a shocking 69-40 victory over St. Anthony, the defending MaxPreps/National Guard national champion in a first round National Division game of the 19th annual MaxPreps Holiday Classic at Torrey Pines High on Friday night.
O’Dowd, a perennial Northern California power, used a stifling defense, aggressive board play, 18 points, 13 rebounds and four steals from 6-foot-5 senior Justin Brue and a 14-0 run to end the third quarter to pull off the stunner.
Nick Capiti, a 6-2 junior guard, came off the bench to add a huge spark for the Dragons (6-2) by scoring 15 points on seven of nine shooting. His steal and tomahawk breakaway dunk at the end of the half gave O’Dowd a 27-22 lead. The Dragons trailed just once at 4-2.
The 77-team, five-division, four-day tournament, which features teams from nine states and Canada, resumes Saturday. (See all Friday results and Saturday schedules below).
“This is a game we’ll tell our grandchildren about someday,” Capiti said. “We can tell them we beat a national champion and one of the best coaches ever.”
Vierra said he dreamed about knocking off the East Coast power. But by 29 points?
“Never, ever, ever,” he said. “I envisioned maybe 60-57 or 59-58 on a buzzer-beater. This probably won’t sink in until tomorrow.”
St. Anthony (3-1), which made an eight-hour trip cross country earlier Friday morning for the 7 p.m. game on the West Coast, got a game-high 22 points from Quinnipiac-bound Jamee Jackson, but Villanova-bound Dominic Cheek managed just eight second-half points.
The Friars, who had a 35-game win streak snapped and lost six Division I players to graduation from last year’s squad, never looked energized or in synch.
“Travel might have had something to do with it,” said Jackson, who scored only three points after intermission. “But we really have no excuses. They played better and harder than us. We’ll just have to get some rest and play better the rest of the tournament.”
The Dragons just hope they haven’t spilled all their beans after playing a near flawless game. Brue, a brute of a power forward and third-year starter, especially keyed the second-half run when most thought St. Anthony would make a run.
Instead, O’Dowd outscored the Friars 36-18 after intermission to hand Hurley, the reigning national Coach of the Year, one of his worst losses in a 35-year career that includes a national-record 25 state championships and five undefeated seasons including 32-0 last season.
The Friars have always made a giant splash at the Holiday Classic, winning it six times, including the initial tournament in 1990. That helped draw a capacity crowd to Torrey Pines, which is somewhat unusual on opening night.
All that fueled the Dragons, the 2006-07 Northern California champions.
“We circled this game last summer and couldn’t wait for it to come,” Brue said. “We just played strong and didn’t let up. Winning NorCals two years ago was probably bigger for us, but if we played like this all year we’ll win NorCals again.”
The Dragons completely shut down Cheek, who got in a slight rhythm in the third quarter.
But O’Dowd squashed that by scoring the last 14 of the quarter, including a six-point burst by Brue and finished off by a beautiful hanging fastbreak hoop by Capiti, who along with senior Nick Brown did most of the defensive work on Cheek, a sleek 6-6 shooting guard.
Brown, a 5-11 senior, started his first game just because of his defensive prowess.
“We could have never imagined this,” Capiti said. “It really started and ended with defense. It led to our offense and carried us to victory.”
St. Anthony, which came in having won 63 of its last 64, couldn’t get a perimeter game going at all. Hurley was gracious in defeat, praising Vierra and his team’s effort.
“He’s a class act all the way,” Vierra said. “He said his team probably didn’t belong (in the top division) this year, that they were young and needed a lot of work.”
Don’t feel bad for the Friars, who figure to kick into high gear next month when three top flight transfers, all front-liners, are eligible to play.
“That will definitely give us a boost,” Johnson said. “But until then we got to boost ourselves and play better defense. Hopefully this will be a wakeup call.”.
SAN DIEGO 60, SANTA RITA (Tucson, Ariz.) 58: In a classic battle, big versus small, the “big” guy won out as 6-10 junior Jeremy Tyler scored a career high 41 points and grabbed 25 rebounds in a tight battle from the start.
Single free throws by San Diego’s Cassie White (48.4 seconds), Tyler (7.6 seconds left) and Xavier Roy (5.8) were the last three points of the night. An off-balance 3-pointer by another highly acclaimed junior guard Terrell Stoglin bounced off the side of the rim at the buzzer and San Diego survived.
“That was too close,” said Tyler, considered by some the best junior in the country. He’s verbally committed to Louisville. “We’ll take it but we need to get better in all areas.”
Stoglin was brilliant throughout, scoring 26. The 6-1 point guard was all-tournament here last year and his one-on-one move against Tyler and runner gave the Eagles their last lead, 58-57 with 1:46 left.
But the Cavers (4-1) made just enough free throws down the stretch to pull the game out.
Santa Rita (7-5), which has no player taller than 6-4, simply had no answer for Tyler, who made most of his shots on either dunks or layups. He did drill a 3-pointer in the first quarter that drew as many ooo’s as some of his massive dunks.
“He’s a hell of a player,” Stoglin said. “We tried everything we could but when you’re that tall and have that much game, there’s not much else you can do.”
Mark Simmons added 13 points for Santa Rita. No other players were in double figures for San Diego, however Roy, a talented 6-2 sophomore, added nine.
The Cavers hope to return three starters who are currently ineligible.
“Hopefully we’ll get those guys back soon and we can really start playing some ball,” Tyler said. “Until then we need to pick it up. We can do it if we play more together and take care of the ball.”
Santa Rita committed just seven turnovers to 22 for San Diego.
ROCKLIN 69, BELLARMINE PREP (Tacoma, Wash.) 52: The much-anticipated battle between two of the top seniors in the country was a wash, but Rocklin (9-1) had a superior supporting cast.
UCLA-bound Brendan Lane, a 6-10 senior post, showed off his much heralded outside game drilling three second-half 3-pointers en route to a team-high 21 points to go along with 12 rebounds and four blocks. Teammate Cody Kate and Tony Williams combined for 25 points to help offset a 24-point performance from Bellarmine's Abdul Gaddy.
The 6-3 point point guard scored all but eight of his points in the first half as the hounding defense of Rocklin, Williams in particular, seemed to wear down the Washington-bound senior.
"I just tried to get him tired and deny him the ball," Williams said. "That's all you can do against a great player like that. He went off a little in the first half but I think we did a pretty good job on him."
Though many in the gym were surprised to see such a big physical player like Lane shoot with such a soft touch. Rocklin coach Steve Tyler said it's never surprising to him.
"He's a great 3-point shooter and it's a big reason why UCLA recruited him," Tyler said. "We don't always show that part of his game but today they were giving it to him so Brendan took it."
WINDWARD (Los Angeles) 54, BELLARMINE PREP (San Jose) 50: A couple of college-bound stars Darius Morris (Michigan) and 6-10 post Anthony Stover (UCLA) were too much for Bellarmine Prep and Santa Clara-bound guard Niya Harrison, who finished with 20 points.
Morris scored a game-high 22 points, including two free throws with 49.6 seconds left to break a 50-50 tie. Malcolm Washington added two more free throws with 3.9 seconds left to seal it for Windward, which got eight points, 13 rebunds and a career-high 15 blocks, four coming in the last minute.
"He changes a lot of things on the defensive end," Windward coach Miguel Villegos said of his star post who transferred from Renaissance Academy, a small-schools state finalist last year. "We're very lucky to have him. With him and Darius at the offensive end, we've got some good puzzle pieces."
More Friday National scores
Newark Memorial 74, Foothill Christian 72
Bellevue (Wash.) 74, Chrisman (Mo.) 54
Eisenhower 73, Pasadena 54
West Valley 60, Reno 56
More 20-point scorers
23 - Andrew Bock (Pasadena)
22 - Troy Leaf (Foothill Christian), Justin Clark (Chrisman)
21 - Bobby McCall (Newark Memorial), Alex Schrempf (Bellevue)
Saturday’s National Division schedule at Torrey Pines (unless noted)
Santa Rita vs. Reno, 9:30 a.m.
Bellarmine (Wash.) vs. Pasadena, 11:05 a.m.
Bellarmine (Calif.) vs. Chrisman, 12:40 p.m.
Windward vs. Bellevue, 3:50 p.m.
Eisenhauer vs. Rocklin, 5:25 p.m.
Newark Memorial vs. Bishop O’Dowd, 7 p.m.
Foothill Christian vs. St. Anthony at Westview, 7 p.m.
San Diego vs. West Valley, 8:35 p.m.
AMERICAN DIVISION AT CATHEDRAL HIGH
SIMI VALLEY 63, ROOSEVELT (Seattle, Wash.) 51: A year after reaching the finals of the tournament’s top division, the Pioneers appear primed to capture the second toughest bracket as they improved to 10-1 with a hard-fought victory.
Brad Lewis, a 6-1 senior guard, exploded for 27 points and 6-2 junior C.J. Faulwell and 6-5 sophomore Jonathan Davis added 10 apiece for the winners, who advanced into quarterfinal play Saturday against Tesoro, a 65-53 winner over Long Beach Jordan.
Despite losing All-Tournament selections and starters Lorne Jackson (now starting at Pepperdine) and Mike Meza to graduation, Simi Valley just keeps rolling behind superb coach Christian Aurand.
Lewis, part of last year’s big three, is now carrying the offensive load averaging a whopping 27.8 points per game. He’s made 49 of 95 3-point attempts.
Simi Valley’s only loss was 89-83 to Golden Valley (Santa Clarita) in the finals of the Simi Valley Tip-off Classic. The Pioneers are averaging just below 80 points per game. Friday’s total was the low for the year.
“We had to find a way to replace 42 points a game scoring (between Jackson and Meza) but the rest of the guys have really responded,” Aurand said.
River Voorhess, a 6-1 senior guard, had 16 to pace Roosevelt.
MAYFAIR (Lakewood) 71, CLEVELAND (Reseda) 61: Tim Douglas, a 5-10 junior point guard, led four players in double figures with 22 points as Mayfair, which lost in the American championship to Eisenhauer 82-64, won a tough matchup with Cleveland, which got a game-high 24 points by Prince Obasi.
Kyle Richardson, a 6-7 post, contributed 15 points for the winners, Garrett Jefferson 11 points and Allan Banker 10 points.
Jason Johnson added 19 points for Cleveland, while Dagern Asfow contributed 10.
More Friday scores
Don Bosco Prep 64, St. George’s (Canada) 49
Mayfair 74, Cleveland 61
Long Beach Poly 67, Luezinger 64
Ironwood Ridge 62 Xavarian 46
More 20-point scorers
24 – Chris Morieesa (Tesoro)
Saturday's American Division schedule
Xaverian vs. Leuzinger, 9:30 a.m.
Long Beach Jordan vs. Roosevelt, 11:05
Cleveland vs. St. George’s, 12:40
College Park (Texas) vs. Bingham (Utah), 2:15 p.m.
Ironwood Ridge vs. Long Beach Poly, 5:25 p.m.
Tesoro vs. Simi Valley, 7 p.m.
Mayfair vs. Don Bosco Prep, 8:35 p.m.
MAYOR’S CUP DIVISION AT WESTVIEW
TORREY PINES 75, LAKESIDE (Lake Elsinore) 39: Freshman Joe Rahon, a 6-foot guard, had 15 points leading four players in double figures leading tournament host Torrey Pines to a convincing win.
Max Heller had 13 points, Spencer Klein 11 and Colin Porter 11 for the Falcons, who gave up just 15 points in the second half.
Torrey Pines has won one tournament already, the Hilltop Classic, but lost in the championship game of the Kiwanis Tournament at Carlsbad to La Costa Canyon 49-45.
Rahon is the younger brother of Santa Clara University freshman guard James Rahon, who scored a tournament-high 126 points at the MaxPreps Holiday Classic last season.
In second-round play today at 2:15 p.m., Torrey Pines will play Bingham (Utah) at Torrey Pines HS. The rest of the division will continue play at Westview.
More Mayor's Cup scores
Cathedral 63, Visa Del Lago 60
J. Serra 60, St. Joseph 45
Chaparral 65, Otay Ranch 53
Temecula Valley 61, Westview 43
Palm Desert 59, Rancho Buena Vista 53
La Jolla 51, Francis Park 34
More 20-point scorers
32 – Matt Ferra (Temecula Valley)
24 – Dee (Vista Del Lago)
20 – Ryan Smalley (St. Joseph), Novak (Cathedral).
Saturday’s Major's Cup schedule
Lakeside vs. Otay Ranch, 9:30 a.m.
Francis Parker vs. Rancho Buena Vista, 11:05 a.m.
Westview vs. Otay Ranch, 12:40 p.m.
St. Joseph vs. Vista Del Lago, 2:15 p.m.
Torrey Pines vs. Bingham 2 at Torrey Pines, 2:15 p.m.
La Jolla vs. Palm Desert, 3:50 p.m.
Temecula Valley vs. Chaparral, 5:25 p.m.
SENATOR’S CUP AT LA COSTA CANYON
FOLSOM 66, MISSION PREP PREP (San Luis Obispo) 52: Tony Johnson, a 5-11 senior guard, exploded for 35 points as Folsom (9-1) breezed to victory.
Johnson scored 11 points in the first quarter and 15 in the third and teammate Patrick Akins added 16 points overall.
Mission Prep (8-5) got 17 points from 6-8 senior post Jerry Casey.
More Senator’s Cup scores
Carlsbad 57, La Verne Lutheran 54
James Logan 87, Birmingham 56
Mesa 51, Pacific Hills 49
La Costa Canyon 55, Catalina Foothills (Ariz.) 47
El Toro 80, Reseda 53
Liberty (Nev.) 69, Cienega (Vail, Ariz.) 63
Bakersfield Christian 69, Arroyo Valley 47
More 20-point scorers
29 – Donavon Jackson (El Toro)
25 – Jake Ducey (La Costa Canyon), Coree Alen (Cienega)
24 – Ken Peters (Liberty), Salaiman Sippiq (James Logan).
23 – Marcus Hall (Bakersfield Christian), Ian Clark (Birmingham)
Saturday’s Senator's Cup schedule
Arroyo Valley vs. Cienega, 9:30 a.m.
Reseda vs. Catalina Foothills, 11:05 a.m.
Pacific Hills vs. Birmingham, 12:40 p.m.
La Verne Lutheran vs. Mission Prep, 2:15 p.m.
Bakersfield Christian vs. Liberty, 3:50 p.m.
Mesa vs. James Logan, 5:25 p.m.
La Costa Canyon vs. El Toro, 7 p.m.
Carlsbad vs. Folsom, 8:35 p.m.
GOVERNOR’S CUP AT RANCHO BERNARDO
VILLA PARK 77, BISHOP ALEMANY (Mission Hills) 73: R.J. Farrell, a 6-3 senior, scored seven of his game-high 24 points in overtime to lift the Spartans (4-6).
Spencher Potiker, a 6-7 junior, added 19 points for the winners, helping to offset a big 23-point effort from Max Giverey for Alemany (3-7).
More Governor's Cup scores
Lincoln 39, Huntington Park 34
St. John Bosco 80, San Bernardino 45
Maranatha 75, Spanish Springs (Nev.) 53
Peninsula 65, Ponderosa 44
Apple Valley 72, Van Nuys 59
Rancho Bernardo 52, Hercules 46
Brea Olinda 66, San Marcos 48
More 20-point scorers
23 – Matt Meyers (San Marcos), Kyle Caudill (Brea Olinda), Cameron Broom (Van Nuys), Chen Cai (Maranatha).
21 – Absalom Smith (Apple Valley), Tyler Emerick (Spanish Springs).
Saturday’s Governor's Cup schedule
San Marcos vs. Hercules, 9:30 a.m.
Van Nuys vs. Ponderosa, 11:05 a.m.
Bishop Alemany vs. Spanish Springs, 12:40 p.m.
San Bernardino vs. Huntington Park, 2:15 p.m.
Apple Valley vs. Peninsula, 3:50 p.m.
Villa Park vs. Maranatha, 5:25 p.m.
Rancho Bernardo vs. Brea Olinda, 7 p.m.
St. John Bosco vs. Lincoln, 8:35 p.m.
E-mail Mitch Stephens at email@example.com.