Boys Basketball: Lowell shuts down Galileo early in Jefferson tourney championship

The Lowell defense converges on Galileo senior forward Max Betowski in the Blue and Gold Tournament championship game on Friday at Jefferson High School in Daly City. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

DALY CITY — Galileo Academy was rolling through the Blue and Gold Tournament at Jefferson High School.

That was until the Lions ran into one of the City’s best defensive teams in the tournament championship game on Friday night.

Lowell senior guard Avery Nicastro-Aikman goes up for a contested shot against Galileo in the Blue and Gold Tournament championship game on Friday at Jefferson High School in Daly City. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lowell (3-1) limited Galileo (2-1) to just six points in the first half and cruised to a 45-28 win.

With a clock-eating motion offense, the Cardinals shot nearly 50 percent from the floor and put the game out of reach early in the third quarter.

“It’s the best game we’ve played this year,” said Lowell head coach Rob Ray. “It’s something about what we do here, that our defense is always something we fall back on.”

The Cardinals got 11 points apiece from guards Jonathon Li and Avery Nicastro-Aikman, but it was senior forward Max Pollard that Ray highlighted after the game.

Pollard didn’t score a point and only took one shot from the floor, but led the standout defensive effort.

“In the [Academic Athletic Association] there are a lot of athletic teams and we have to find something else,” Pollard said. “We make it up with an intelligent offense and on defense we really just play hard and make them take shots they don’t want to take. We pride ourselves in that.”

The Lions shot just over 26 percent from the floor, but that number is even deceiving, due to a late Galileo push against Lowell’s second team in the fourth quarter. Galileo only had six field goals through three quarters and trailed 32-15 heading into the fourth.

“It was a combination of both our cold shooting and their defense,” said Galileo head coach Jeremy Lee. “It got contagious. Once shots weren’t going down, everyone was trying so hard to make something go in. It just snowballed from there.”

Nicastro-Aikman was named the tournament’s most valuable player and was the Cardinals’ biggest scoring threat early. The senior used his size advantage over Galileo’s group of smaller guards to work into the paint for easy baskets.

“They’re a little bit smaller, so we started out bigger guards,” Ray said. “We thought he would take advantage of that and he did.”

Lowell’s best defensive effort was on Galileo senior forward Max Betowski, who scored a team-high nine points, but on 3-of-15 shooting.

Lowell junior guard Jonathon Li drives into the teeth of the Galileo defense in the Blue and Gold Tournament championship game on Friday at Jefferson High School in Daly City. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“This is probably the first game he realized he will be the focal point [of opposing defenses],” Lee said. “I don’t think he is used to all the attention he was getting, especially from a team like Lowell, which is really going to try to take away whatever your strong suit is.”

Betowski, a transfer from Lick-Wilmerding who had to sit out last season, had an excellent tournament and will need to play a key role if the Lions want to do some damage in the AAA.

“He can really play inside out,” Lee said. “He can go down low, he handles the ball really well on the perimeter and he can play to the mismatches that way. The intangible he brings, though, is that he’s not only our best player, but he’s the hardest working.”

The Cardinals were undoubtedly the best team in the tournament and showed improvement in the finale, which they hope bodes well for the future.

“We have a sense that we can deal with adversity,” Pollard said. “Last year, when we went down in big games, we were pretty much beaten. In this tournament, we were down against Aragon, and to Washington at the end of the game, and showed true composure.”

Scoring Leaders

Lowell
Jonathon Li — 11
Avery Nicastro-Aikman — 11
Jackson Miao — 9
Taylor Tsang — 4
Two players tied with 3 points

Galileo
Max Betowski — 9
Christopher Lee — 8
Jacob Glasov — 5
Brion Gregorson — 4
Kyle Fung — 2

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12 Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    that guy betkowski is a beast

  2. Adrian Suarez says:

    HE is noooo GORDAN KWAN

  3. GCJ01 says:

    Let’s hope that Lowell moves up from that 8th spot that they were in during the last poll. There should be some switching around in the next poll, including a new #3 seeing how SI lost the lone game that they played.

    • Feel the Pain says:

      Lowell has a guard laden squad that plays solid defense, no question. I think all teams ranked ahead of them are legitimate as far as where they are placed, with the exception of maybe Stuart Hall (the jury’s still out). If they move up, it should’nt be more than one spot. Wins and losses aside, teams ranked ahead like St. Ignatius have played teams with superior talent. Although they didn’t win, they were without players and still played competitively. I say, leave them at 3 and by seasons end they will be 1 or 2. I’d like to see Lowell play Sheldon, Oakland Tech., and Bishop Manogue, instead of Aragon, Washington and Galileo.

      • GCJ01 says:

        Lowell has always (at least for the most part) been a team full of guards. So, there’s no shock there. I agree with you that playing Aragon and Gal probably won’t help their case much, however, Washington is a good school. Lowell and Washington will have to play eachother again, and possibly a third time in the playoffs. A team’s strength of schedule should be taken into consideration (and probably is knowing JB!), but I say they move up at least two spots and not just one.

        • Feel the Pain says:

          Good insight. So who would Lowell jump in the Rankings or should I say who would drop? University and Stuart Hall?. If they jump at least 2 spots they would go to #6. Ahead would be the 3 WCAL schools, Mission, and Lincoln. Unless you drop Lincoln for their performance in the Jeremy Jack. How about Balboa in the top 10, they won the Lick Wilmerding tournament vs. the home team at full strength (gave Lowell fits in their scrimmage).? I’d like to see a Bal/Lowell matchup in the Cardinal Classic this week, but that won’t happen unless Bal can beat a good Half Moon Bay team in their opener. Hard to determine where teams should fall unless they go head to head.

  4. Anonymous says:

    yeah who’s that guy betkowski? first team all city probably

  5. anonymous says:

    so avery nicastro-aikman was named mvp of the tourny, do you think he has a chance at AAA mvp?

  6. Anonymous says:

    Betkowski is the man!

  7. Anonymous says:

    betkowskis the best in the bay!

  8. anonymous says:

    Truthfully the AAA iss trash this year. The worst it has been in awhile

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