Boys Basketball: Lowell’s steady play leads to non-league win over Urban

Lowell senior guard Avery Nicastro-Aikman rises above an Urban defender for a shot on Monday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

While Urban School’s boys basketball team ran hot and cold at various times during its matchup against Lowell on Monday, the Cardinals were a model of consistency, and that steadiness paid off.

The Cardinals didn’t score more than 18 points in a quarter, but 11 Lowell players scored and the team shot a season-high 53 percent from the floor in a 59-48 non-league win over the Blues on Monday at Kezar Pavilion.

Urban junior guard Matthew Monges goes up for a contested layup against Lowell on Monday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“With our group of guys this year, we don’t have the most consistent shooters, so we were looking to capture a little bit of a spark,” said Lowell assistant coach Wyman Lee, who is serving as head coach in the absence of Rob Ray, who was not present for personal reasons. “Some of the guys stepped up and took that open shot instead of giving it up.”

The 59 points scored is also a season high for the Cardinals (5-3), who got a game-high 18 points from senior guard Avery Nicastro-Aikman.

“I’ve been in the program for four years, and I think now is my time,” Nicastro-Aikman said of his role as the Cardinals’ main scoring threat. “We were pretty much just running our offense, and in the past couple of games, we’ve been breaking away from that. Today, we just ran our sets and it worked.”

While the Cardinals never seemed to waiver, it was two severe Urban droughts that ultimately sank the Blues (3-3).

Urban missed its first 10 shots from the floor to start the game, allowing Lowell to jump out to a 12-0 lead, and didn’t hit a shot from the field until the 2:50 mark of the first quarter, then went without a field goal for an 8-minute span in the third and fourth quarters.

“We are still trying to find a way to play four quarters of solid basketball,” said Urban head coach Joe Skiffer. “We’re more like a roller coaster right now. We have the highs, where we look good, and the lows, where we look horrible.”

The high for the Blues was undoubtedly the second quarter, when they came back to tie the game 29-29 at the half on the strength of 4-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. Two of those long-distance strikes came from standout guard Nate Cohen, who had a team-high 15 points, but as the game wore on, the junior was held in check by the Lowell defense.

Urban junior guard Nate Cohen eyes the Lowell defense on Monday at Kezar Pavilion. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“He’s not only our best offensive player, but our best all-around player,” Skiffer said. “He should want to have the ball in his hands and he’ll look to attack more and more.”

Lowell’s defense also played a part in Urban’s cold streaks, and after giving up 20 points in the second quarter, the Cardinals limited the Blues to just seven points in the third.

“We went right into [the locker room] at halftime and there were some words shared,” Lee said. “We don’t give up 20 points in a quarter, and we came back in the third and took control of the game again.”

Scoring Leaders

Avery Nicastro-Aikman — 18
Jonathon Li — 7
Max Pollard — 7
Jackson Miao — 6
Jorell Cacatian — 5

Nate Cohen — 15
Matthew Monges — 12
Julian Matulich — 10
Harrison Golding — 9
Jonathan Baer — 2

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