Boys Basketball: Lowell’s defense shines again in tourney win over Bay

Lowell senior guard Avery Nicastro-Aikman goes up for a contested layup against Bay in the first round of the Cardinal Classic on Thursday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

By Jeremy Balan

It almost doesn’t matter how well Lowell High School’s boys basketball team shoots in any given game.

Lowell’s defense is so stout this season, if the shots don’t fall, the Cardinals can still win comfortably, and they proved that in a 52-41 win over Bay in the first round of the Cardinal Classic on Thursday at Lowell.

Lowell senior forward Jackson Miao rises for a shot in the lane in the first round of the Cardinal Classic on Thursday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

Lowell (4-1) shot just over 29 percent from the floor and only had one player score in double figures, but it was the strength of its defense — forcing 18 Bay turnovers and limiting the Breakers (5-2) to shoot just over 31 percent from the floor — that was the difference.

“I have [eight] seniors on this team, so we should be comfortable holding a lead and know how to handle it,” said Lowell head coach Rob Ray. “We rely on our defense a lot, so when we have a six- or seven-point lead, for us, it feels like 10 or 12.”

The Cardinals missed all 10 of their 3-point shots in the first half, but still led 20-18 at the break, then hit key shots in the third quarter to build a 35-25 lead Bay could not rally back from.

“We’re going to keep shooting 3s, and if we lose, we’re going to still keep shooting 3s within our offense,” Ray said. “Everybody on this team has a green light to shoot when they are open and we’re going to keep doing what we do and hopefully they’ll start dropping.”

The Breakers tried to battle back, though, and cut the lead to 44-40 with a minute left by riding the hot hand of senior guard Connor Mattoon.

Mattoon had a game-high 19 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field and connected on 3-of-6 shots from 3-point range in the second half.

“It’s very nice to have a healthy Connor Mattoon,” said Bay head coach Pete Overfelt. “Last year, he had a back injury and he struggled with that all season. Now, he’s a senior and this is his year. He’s a ballplayer, he can shoot and that’s his role.”

The Breakers did their best to extend the game with fouls, but the Cardinals made 10-of-12 free throws in the final 1:11 to put the game away.

Bay senior guard Connor Mattoon rises up for a layup against Lowell in the first round of the Cardinal Classic on Thursday at Lowell High School. (Photo by Devin Chen)

“They had good shooters, and they were stepping back to college and NBA range and nailing them. There’s not much we can do about that,” Ray said. “Again, with a group of seniors, knocking down free throws down the stretch is a part of the game we’re supposed to take care of.”

Senior forward Jackson Miao connected on his first four shots of the game and only took six total, but led the Cardinals with 10 points and played a key role defensively, blocking three shots in the fourth quarter.

“Offense is not really one of my main things and I try to focus on my defense and grabbing boards,” Miao said. “We’re just trying to win. Our No. 1 thing is defense and that’s what we hang our hats on.”

Scoring Leaders

Lowell
Jackson Miao — 10
Zachary Yu — 9
Avery Nicastro-Aikman — 8
Jonathon Li — 7
Bryan Robinson — 6

Bay
Connor Mattoon — 19
Zev Newman — 11
Lucas Knorr — 6
Henry Gale — 3
James Koch — 2

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14 Comments

  1. victory says:

    lowell lost to lick but balboa beat lick maybe balboa is a serious contender in the AAA

    • GCJ01 says:

      The Lang division (in which Bal is in) has been the stronger division in the AAA for the past couple of years. This is not to say the Neff division (in which Lowell is apart of) is not good, but the power has definately been in favor of the Lang division. So the fact that Bal beat Lick-Wilmerding and Lowell didn’t is no surprise to me.

  2. JJ says:

    I’m pretty sure BAL’s rankings in the polls will keep rising, if they keep winning. I can see them ranked #6 when the new polls come out.

      • Feel the Pain says:

        I agree as well. These are the SF rankings and as such should be looked at like that. With Lowell losing to Lick, who was not even in the top 10 and with University and Stuart Hall both losing, there will be some serious shuffling next week. This would be my top 10 for the next poll.

        1. Sacred Heart
        2. Mission
        3. St. Ignatius (when Domingo and company return, will move to #2)
        4. Lincoln (lost to a decent SH prep team)
        5. Riordan ( I keep the Crusaders here, have more talent than other teams in SF and would take them head up vs. AAA/BCL teams in SF)
        6. Balboa (bad loss to HMB, but beat Stuart Hall who was ranked ahead)
        7. Lick Wilmerding (Lost to Bal, beat Lowell comfortably)
        8. University (can’t drop too far with their loss in the Island Classic)
        9. Lowell (still a question mark until they play AAA schedule, but for now I will keep them here)
        10. Washington (even with losses at Burlingame, they play games close. Early loss to Lowell at Jeff tourney, leaves them here)

        Teams who are close:

        Galileo, Stuart Hall, Marshall (they will get better as the season goes on)

        • Feel the Pain says:

          I posted my ranking prior to the Washington/Marshall score. Wow, I knew Marshall was going to develop, but they smacked Washington by a good margin. They will be ready come AAA season, I’ll switch those 2 teams and Marshall makes my #10, while Wash. falls out. The Phoenix are rising!

        • GCJ01 says:

          When Domingo and company returns, you still think SH will be better than SI? I like your poll, however, I would put Lowell at #8 and University at #9…at least for right now…..

          • Feel the Pain says:

            GCJ01- I really believe SI will have a stronger team with the addition of their missing players. Aside from Domingo, I like Watters to compliment Dunbar at the Guard position. They lost Tapel for the year, so their other guards will need to step up. It should be a titantic matchup when they do meet, probably 4 maybe 5 times this year. As for Lowell, well, they will be exposed in the AAA so the jury is still out on them. Losses to Lick and Piedmont don’t look good unless those teams can do some damage down the line in their leagues.

            PS- no worries on the Wrestling post, Im a fan of all sports.

            • JJ says:

              Even though Tapel maybe out for the season, I can’t see SI being better than SHC. The only way SI beats SHC is if Dunbar & Domingo shoot 10 for 13 from the 3-point arc.

              • Anonymous says:

                To be honest I haven’t seen SH play, but I didn’t know that SI would have to shoot that type of percentage to win. In a rivalry like theirs I don’t think that one team will dominate the other, especially if they were to play 4 or 5 times. Maybe SH wins 3 and SI 2 or vice versa, but I can’t see SI losing 4 out of 5 to SH. They will have multiple shots at each other so I guess one game won’t tell the whole story. It may be who’s gone the farthest in CCS, NORCAL, STATE that will determine who’s better. Until then SH is #1 and SI#2 like the rankings say. Just my opinion that’s all.

  3. GCJ01 says:

    Good job Lowell! Keep winning so y’all can keep moving up in the polls! Lowell might just be the team to beat in the Neff division.

  4. GCJ01 says:

    Interesting note….Bay has went 0-2 since SanFranPreps put them in the polls.

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