By Jeremy Balan
After four tough losses to open up its West Catholic Athletic League season, Archbishop Riordan High School left no doubt in Saturday’s 54-35 win over visiting Valley Christian.
The Crusaders (7-8, 1-4) outscored the Warriors (7-8, 0-5) in every quarter and went on a 9-0 run to start the fourth, leading by as much as 22 points in the frame to put the game well out of reach.
Sure, the game featured the only two winless WCAL teams coming in, but Riordan head coach Rich Buckner was more than happy to get into the win column.
“In this league, we’ll take wins however they come, in an ugly fashion, a pretty fashion, in San Jose or in San Francisco,” Buckner said. “Wherever your wins come in this league, you’re grateful for them.”
After scoring only a single point in the first half, Riordan senior Aaron Anderson fueled the late Crusaders run with seven points in the fourth quarter en route to a game-high 12 points.
“It was just our time,” Anderson said. “We had our minds focused to come out and get this win and get us back on track.”
Anderson led all scorers, but it was his performance on the boards that may have been the most impactful. The 6-foot-1 guard, who is listed as a forward, hit the glass like a frontcourt player, gathering a game-high 10 rebounds.
“The underestimated thing about jumping is the quickness with which you can jump, not only how high can you jump, and Aaron has that,” Buckner said. “That’s why he can sneak in and get double-digit [rebounds].”
Anderson led the way, but the Crusaders got points from nine different players, including 20 off the bench.
Valley Christian played the Crusaders practically even in the first quarter and only trailed 13-11, but would never get any closer, as the Warriors struggled mightily from the floor, shooting 30 percent and just over 18 percent from three-point range.
Even when the Crusaders went cold, the Warriors couldn’t capitalize. The Crusaders extended their lead to 25-18 after the second quarter, even though they went through a 0-for-9 drought from the floor in one stretch.
“Coming to Riordan is always tough with the good crowd, but whatever it was, they just weren’t going in,” said Valley Christian head coach Marcus Martinez. “We were a little flat and they took advantage of that and jumped on us early.”
Riordan continues WCAL play next Wednesday when they travel to the Sunset, where the Crusaders will look to spring a considerable upset against St. Ignatius, which has yet to lose at home.
“It’s going to be a fun game,” Anderson said. “It’s a City game with some bragging rights [up for grabs]. We know they are good competitors, but I think we can do some damage.”
Aaron Anderson – 12
Brandon Edison – 11
Anthony Castillo – 6
Jordan Doughterty – 6
Geru Mabrey – 6
Brandon Hecke – 10
Johnny Parker – 8
Zayn Kirkendoll – 5
Joseph Lampkin – 4
Two tied with 3 points