Boys Basketball: Riordan puts away Seaside early, SI next in CCS quarterfinals

Riordan junior guard Anthony Castillo (right) tries to drive past Seaside forward Osita Okonkwo on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

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.

Riordan senior guard Aaron Anderson (right) goes up for a layup, contested by Seaside forward Osita Okonkwo, on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“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.

Scoring Leaders

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

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Going out on a limb here to call an upset..Riordan over SI in a close game

  2. Anonymous says:

    Second that! Yep SI will play nervous and the coach will panic!

  3. bw30 says:

    SI does have one of their best players a 6,3 starter back in Nick Johnson….He has missed 7 WCAL games with hurt knee I think….He should really help SI and take some pressure off Mrlic….SI is definitely a better team but Riordan wont lay down either….Another city battle

  4. Jordan24 says:

    should be another classic battle…throw out the records!

  5. Cats pride says:

    I don’t want to show any bias here, but there is a reason SI got the 2 seed. They may not have the world’s best coach, but they do have a lot of talent. I doubt Johnny Mrlick is going to let his team loose their first game of the CCS tournament. He can just take over a game. Riordan played, and outmatched Seaside, but Seaside is not a WCAL team.

  6. Biggie Big... says:

    SI vs Riordan, what a good city game for the kids. I think the winner plays SHC and that will be big trouble for both teams. SHC is faster and more athletic than both SI and Riordan and I think confident by beating R 2 times and smashing SI at SI a month ago but city schools rivalary could be for an upset by any team…good luck kids…

    • jbalan says:


      Sacred Heart is actually on the other side of the bracket… They’d only meet them in the final… SI or Riordan would face the winner of Burlingame-Mills…

  7. Anonymous says:

    @Cats Pride….so using your logic, you’re saying Mrlik LET his team lose their first WCAL playoff game at home? SI hasn’t played since their last loss so they will be a bit rusty. If there is ever a time they would lose to Riordan, this is it. I attended the last game between the 2 and it was close. It will take another big performance from Domingo and Aguilar for SI to win. They must start Aguilar to be successful, if they don’t it’s a travesty and truly shows how terrible their coaching is. Does anyone know if they moved Dunbar up for the playoffs?

  8. Anonymous says:

    No freshman or JV fr SI moved it’s an SI internal rule
    I think!!

  9. bw30 says:

    Again I believe Nick Johnson got hurt in the 1st or 2nd game of second round of league. Either way it was before they played SH for the 2nd time. I really think this kid is going to help the team both offensively and defensively!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sorry Anon:
    Just fyi it may not happen in SI basketball, but other sports such as football and soccer SI brings up JV and Frosh players whenever CCS playoffs come around

  11. SI Cats says:

    I understand that one of the only kids SI may consider bringing up, Dunbar, just isn’t quite ready yet for this level-especially CCS/CIF type competition. He’s got a lot of raw talent but game needs a lot of refining-tends to get out of control on court-forces things etc.

    Should see plenty of him over the next three years at varsity level. Just not now.

  12. Biggie Big... says:

    SI Cats, only if Dunbar stays at SI, rumors are circling that he might transfer out…I’m curious to see if he stays or goes??? Anyways he is a talented kid who must work much harder if he wants to be a big name in the WCAL. His fancy way of handling the ball might not make the SI coaches too happy but as long as he delivers all will be happy at SI…Riordan has 2 good frosh in Zach Masoli and Jiday Ubaghi, SHC has a frosh named Bobby Arenas and Brett Rasso that will play varsity next yr. Good crop of frosh kids in the city…Good luck kids…

  13. Anonymous says:

    @anon i hope by next year politics, name recognition, money doesn’t play a role in any of the selection for players at SI. There are a lot of good basketball players from both boys and girls. This is probably wishful thinking because I already saw it happen before.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Bobby arenas and Brett rasso will not play varsity next year.

  15. Johnny Drama says:

    In looking at the standings, the cats had the best frosh class followed by Riordan. I heard SI won both games by 1 point. SH was horrible, based on standings, never saw them play. I can’t imagine a frosh at SHC playing at the Varsity level next year off of a losing team. If Dunbar does leave, the scale tips in Riordans favor. AGAIN I REITERATE, tHe glory days of the WCAL are long gone. Especially in SF.

    Now to the game! CATS BY 20. They are rested and motivated after their last loss. If they come out flat coach should be fired on the spot. They should not have lost to the Bells so we will see how they bounce back.

  16. SI Cats says:

    Johnny Drama…I was sorry to see Tim Riordan step down as Varsity coach a couple years ago. He was bright, understood the game and seemed to be a very good motivator. Since he’s taken over the Freshman ‘A’ team the last couple of years, I believe they’ve won a total of 40-41 games & lost TWICE.

    Enough said.

  17. Johnny Drama says:

    @SI CATS…..agree100 percent!!! With him in charge we would have tied for first in WCAL play (assuming we still beat Mitty at home ) and would win CCS. Hopefully he takes the reins again in the near future!!

  18. City Lights says:

    Riordan vs. SI will be MUCH closer than 20 pts. I agree though, if SI loses, ALL of their varsity coaches should be fired. They’ve been bounced QUICK in CCS the last two years. No big playoff wins. Serious pressure on SI. Will this be the last game for their seniors?

  19. IC Stars says:

    J.D., the SHC Frosh B’s were much better than the Frosh A’s. The varsity will be essentially the same for next season so we won’t see much of a drop-off in talent. Bobby Arenas was also the Frosh quarterback. He could throw 65-yarders but the receivers have to catch-up.

  20. Johnny Drama says:

    @IC Stars…thanks for clearing it up. Good point about the varsity returning most of their talent.

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