Boys Basketball: Riordan’s offense surgical in win over Moreau Catholic

Riordan senior guard Geru Mabrey goes up for a layup against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Riordan senior guard Geru Mabrey goes up for a layup against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

By Jeremy Balan

HAYWARD – The Moreau Catholic boys basketball team’s trapping, pressure defense is supposed to cause havoc and mistakes, but on Saturday, Riordan picked it apart.

The Crusaders continuously exploited the weaknesses of the Mariners’ defense and cruised to a 79-63 non-league win in the Catholic School Winter Classic at Cal State East Bay.

Riordan senior point guard Geru Mabrey did his part, regularly splitting the double teams with quick dribbles to open up mini fast breaks, but the main point of attack for the Crusaders (7-0) was at the free-throw line.

Senior center Graham Gilleran and junior forward Zach Masoli dished out 12 of the Crusaders’ 22 total assists in that position, frequently finding teammates for open layups and jump shots. Masoli, in his first game of the basketball season, returning from a hand injury he sustained in the football season, showed some rust scoring (he had four points), but had seven assists.

Riordan senior guard A.J. Padrones takes the ball across midcourt against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Riordan senior guard A.J. Padrones takes the ball across midcourt against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

“We were expecting that from Zach, because we know what kind of athlete he is,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “He shows his skills on the football field and he brought it today. He was almost like a point forward there at the free throw line.”

Gilleran played a similar role in the first half and also made the most crucial play of the game on the defensive end. Tasked with guarding Moreau’s 6-foot-5 standout freshman Oscar Frayer, Gilleran took a charge with 5:53 remaining in the second quarter. The foul was Frayer’s third and knocked him out of the game for the rest of the half, allowing the Crusaders to outscore the Mariners 29-16 in the second quarter and take a 48-29 lead into the break.

Gilleran finished with a double-double on 11 points and a game-high 10 rebounds, to go along with a block and five assists.

“Graham was the best player on the floor in the first half,” Buckner said. “He had a fire in his eye today. We challenged him in practice yesterday and he responded.”

Frayer is Moreau’s leading scorer and only had 10 points due to game-long foul trouble, but he was missed even more on the defensive end of the floor. The freshman had three blocks alone in the first quarter and added two more when he returned in the second half, but Riordan’s second-quarter surge largely came in the paint without the freshman in the way.

“It changed the way we had to play,” said Moreau head coach Frank Knight. “Oscar is a defender and is a presence inside. When he’s not there, we give up a lot of layups and don’t get a lot of offensive rebounds.”

The Mariners (8-4) never got the deficit back to single digits, but came awfully close early in the third quarter. Moreau came out of the locker room hot, went on a 8-0 run to start the second half and cut the lead to 52-42 with 4:48 left in the third quarter.

That’s when an unlikely source put the game away for the Crusaders.

Reserve guard A.J. Padrones hit a cutting layup on an assist from Masoli on the next possession, then, after a pair of fast-break baskets by Mabrey, Padrones hit three straight three-pointers in the final 2 minutes of the third quarter.

“A.J. is one of our hardest workers and it was his time today,” Buckner said. “The guy in front of him was struggling a little bit and we put him in. I always keep hot hands in the game and he had one today.”

Riordan senior center Graham Gilleran sets for a defensive possession against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

Riordan senior center Graham Gilleran sets for a defensive possession against Moreau Catholic on Saturday at Cal State East Bay in Hayward. (Photo by Doug Ko)

The three-point spree extended the Riordan lead to 67-47 at the end of the third quarter and Padrones hit another in the first minute of the fourth to give him a career- and game-high 20 points.

“I was just at the right spot at the right time – waiting for my shot, waiting for a right time,” Padrones said. “It was exciting and my team was there for me to get me the shots.”

Another three-pointer, this time from Mabrey – who had 19 points, five rebounds, five assists and four steals – gave the Crusaders their largest lead of the game at 77-53 with 3:52 remaining.

“We got [the lead] down to 10 and then the guy hits those threes and I could tell the air kinda went out of us,” Knight said. “We thought if we got under double digits, we could have some action.”

Junior Bobby Arenas was the fourth Riordan player to score in double figures with 10 points – all in the first half, on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor – and the Crusaders shot 47 percent from the field as a team.

“It was surprising, because watching Moreau on film, we knew they would press and trap all over the floor, even in the half court,” Bucker said. “Usually in those types of games, your offense can look sloppy.”

Scoring Summary

Riordan
A.J. Padrones – 20
Geru Mabrey – 19
Graham Gilleran – 11
Bobby Arenas – 10
Christian Hernandez – 6

Moreau Catholic
Brandon Lawrence – 20
Armond Simmons – 11
Ryan Regner – 11
Oscar Frayer – 10
Edgar Surya – 5

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16 Comments

  1. Just some facts says:

    AJ Padrones – a not so secret weapon anymore. Wow. He is fast and pretty fearless and has a shot. or two!
    It was his night.

    Geru Mabray – the drill sergeant who leads. What an athlete! Totally a star – still too amazing to believe a lot of the time. But it is true – that much athleticism is true.

    So good to have Zach Masoli back. He is a leader whether on a basketball court or on the football field. Totally a born athlete and a leader. Great basketball IQ too. His teammates trust him and that is important.

    Graham Gilleran – a coach’s player. Tell him what to do and he does it. Leave him to his high Basketball IQ and he is a great team player. He understands what is happening on the floor and accommodates and uses all his teammates. No Diva or cowboy/showboat. A solid well-coached team player.

    This team has so many complimentary great players and they mesh well as a team no matter what combination – it is a delight to watch them play together. A testament to their coaches. They teach them to play as a team and to be prepared, know your opposition and it showed in defense as well as offense.

  2. Big guy 24 says:

    Riordan is a solid well coached team and Mabry is the leader with Ugbaja and Arenas taking care of business. Riordan should be thinking of winning the WCAL whether they can or not the kids should reach for the sky. They play solid D and Mabry plays with great energy. I’m not sure yet what the transfers will add and nobody knows at this time except good talent coming in for Riordan. SHC and SI only getting better week to week and until Riordan and SI can defeat SHC they are the best in the city! Good luck to all kids in the city playing ball…

    • Just some facts says:

      Agreed. Mabrey is a leader for sure. He stirs up the whole team. He is “on” at all times. He doesn’t ever let anything affect him – not bad calls or whatever. He is always on- whether offense or defense. He is the fire inside the team when on court. Hope some schools see that – he is a first-class athlete and first-class off the court too. His team and his coaches trust him and he delivers for them and makes all the other players play better. He has well-deserved confidence on the court and he leads.
      So good to have Bobby Arenas playing this year. He was a missing factor last year which would have very likely made the difference we needed. He is also a very good football player. Natural born athlete in the most true sense of the word.
      Wait until the two Ugbaja’s are playing together – they have such strength and raw athleticism. They will provide a really exciting game – no doubt about it.

      • Big guy 24 says:

        Good call just some facts, I agree that the Ugbaja’s will bring great athletism and speed to the crusaders this year. Having Arenas back this year adds a very smart and strong player who can score and rebound and the QB is Mabry on the court and he does it with good energy and confidence. Very good point grds for the 3 city schools so it will be competitive starting wednesday in league, good luck to all 3 city schools!!

  3. purple says:

    It was a treat for me to witness my kids (two of which play ball) watch Riordan play great team ball (it’s tough to watch the alma mater while living in the East Bay with three young kids).

    They moved the ball efficiently in half court sets with a post at the free throw line or at the elbow and they found open cutters all game. They were unselfish. They also played tenacious man D and played great help D. Aside from the athleticism and some size, tough D and finding open cutters and draining Js, Riordan just looked confident, composed and disciplined. Good luck mighty men!

    BTW – Frank Knight and Moreau will continue to make tons of noise for many years to come.

    Great article Mr. Balan – very accurate analysis.

    • SF_Mikey says:

      Agreed Coach Buckner always seems to have his team play hard and unselfish basketball. It’ll be interesting to see all the combinations that will be deployed once the transfers are eligible. They’ll be extremely deep and athletic so I think they’ll wear a lot of teams down in the third and fourth quarters.

      I don’t know if I’ve seen a quicker PG than Mabrey – it’s a joy to watch him play this year as he has tremendously improved his offensive game. I played PG in high school and whenever watching Mabrey I wonder how I would have fared playing anyone that quick!

  4. Just some facts says:

    BTW Don Ho takes fabulous action photos.

  5. Just some facts says:

    Correction: Don Ko is a fabulous sports photographer and gets great close-up action photos.

  6. wcalsf says:

    The 3 excellent action shots taken also exemplifies the ethnic diversity of Riordan.

  7. photog says:

    Thanks, @ Just some facts.. Glad you enjoyed the photos…

    Doug Ko

    • Just some facts says:

      I am always so impressed with your photos – every one of them that I have seen over the years. You are very talented. Amazing you get such clear up-close characteristic for the particular player shots. Keep it up. Truly adds to the stories a lot.

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