By Jeremy Balan
The Riordan boys basketball team will look significantly different and likely be a lot better when its highly-touted transfers become eligible in January, but the group it put on the floor Wednesday wasn’t too shabby.
The Crusaders shot just under 65 percent from the floor and had four players score in double figures in a runaway 75-46 win over Mission in the first round of the Crusader Classic at Riordan.
Riordan junior forward Bobby Arenas led all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the field and completed a double-double with 10 rebounds, but the best player on the floor Wednesday was undoubtedly senior point guard Geru Mabrey.
Mabrey flirted with a quadruple-double before being removed, along with the rest of the Riordan starters, with just under 3 minutes remaining in the third quarter when the Crusaders (1-0) held a 61-21 lead. The 5-foot-9 senior finished with 11 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor (2-of-3 from three-point range), to go along with eight assists, six rebounds and five steals.
“Geru makes us go and he got extremely better over the summer,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “He’s really worked on his shooting and those shots last year probably wouldn’t have fallen. This year, he’s knocking those down and he’s got that double threat going on. If you sag off of him, he’s got the ability to make a three-pointer, and if you get up on him, he’s so quick, we know he can get to the basket.”
The Crusaders feasted on backdoor cuts for easy buckets against an over-pursuing Mission defense, scored 52 points in the paint and Mabrey provided a bit of flash.
The lightning-quick senior was at his best in the final moments of the second quarter, when he drove past a Mission defender with ease, drew another help defender, then dished the ball behind his back to Arenas for an easy layup at the buzzer to give the Crusaders a 41-18 lead at the halftime break.
“We worked hard over the summer and it’s paid off,” Mabrey said. “This is a good little start, but it shows. If we keep making progress and doing well, we’ll be pretty solid.”
While the Crusaders got easy baskets throughout, the Bears (0-1) struggled mightily to get anything going on offense after a fair first quarter, where they only trailed Riordan 19-13. The Bears shot 2-of-13 from the floor and scored just five points in the second quarter, and never challenged for the lead again. Riordan outscored Mission 48-14 in the second and third quarters combined.
“We don’t have any practice time under our belts and we’re not very good,” said Mission head coach Arnold Zelaya. “Hopefully we can get some practice time in and get better. It’s never been this bad, but it can only get better.”
Standout Mission guards Kevin Murray and Antoine Porter scored just 17 points combined against Riordan, but it was the quantity of shots it took the pair to get to that total that hurt the Bears most. The duo shot 7-of-30 from the floor and 2-of-14 from three-point range.
“I never would have imagined a 40-point game late in the third quarter against them, because of the simple fact that guards run high school basketball and Mission has two of them,” Buckner said. “I thought that alone could carry them, but we held them and that was key right there.”
Bobby Arenas – 19
Geru Mabrey – 11
Jiday Ugbaja – 11
Usman Hameed – 10
Four players tied with 6 points
Antoine Porter – 13
Joji Kurotani – 7
Ronald Murrilo – 6
Jerrel Stancil – 5
Two players tied with 4 points