By Jeremy Balan
Archbishop Riordan High School got a welcome reprieve from its brutal West Catholic Athletic League season with a dominating 63-39 win over visiting Seaside in the second round of the CIF-Central Coast Section Division III playoffs on Thursday, but the honeymoon won’t last long.
WCAL foe and City rival St. Ignatius awaits the seventh-seeded Crusaders (9-17) in the quarterfinals on Saturday. The second-seeded Wildcats beat Riordan in both regular-season meetings, but the Crusaders are more than happy to get another chance.
“We’re two teams that know each other well,” Riordan head coach Rich Buckner said of the matchup with St. Ignatius. “I don’t need to motivate our guys for that game and I’m sure [St. Ignatius head] coach [John] DeBenedetti doesn’t need to either. It’s our rival, it’s CCS and it feels good to get another shot.”
While the Crusaders are already looking forward, it didn’t take long for them to take control against an overmatched Seaside (19-9) squad. They began the game with a 17-1 run on the strength of nine first-quarter points from Anthony Castillo and never looked back.
What was most impressive about the run was the absence of Riordan’s standout senior guard Aaron Anderson, who was in foul trouble early and went scoreless in the first quarter.
But it didn’t take Anderson long to get back into the flow of the game, as he scored seven points in the second quarter and hit all four of his shots in the second half en route to a game-high 15 points and seven rebounds.
“Our main focus all throughout this season was to win in CCS,” Anderson said. “Everyone thinks we’re having a bad season, but our record doesn’t show the team we are. This game was a warmup, to show what we could really do.”
The Crusaders also got a lift from 6-foot-4 sophomore forward Graham Gilleran, who used a deadly accurate midrange jump shot to score his first double-double of the season with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
“I was pleasantly surprised with Graham tonight,” Buckner said. “Obviously he’s a sophomore and we have high hopes for him. His work is paying off. It’s not by osmosis. He’s really working hard.”
The Crusaders were dominant early and outscored the Spartans in each of the first three quarters, but struggled mightily in the fourth, committing nine of their 21 total turnovers in the quarter. Buckner clearly expressed that type of performance will not bode well against a team like St. Ignatius.
“I know SI was sitting up there watching us, licking their chops,” Buckner said. “I was pulling my hair out, because that’s not Riordan basketball. The sign of a champion is how you finish.”
Seaside head coach Kelvin Garnett was not available for comment after the game.
Aaron Anderson – 15
Anthony Castillo – 14
Graham Gilleran – 12
Brandon Edison – 8
Three players tied with 4 points
Donovan Salvant – 12
Chris Vann – 7
Osita Okonkwo – 6
Joseph Jakubowsky – 4
Two players tied with 3 points