Boys Basketball: Riordan comes up just short against Mitty

Riordan senior point guard Geru Mabrey drives past a Mitty defender on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Riordan senior point guard Geru Mabrey drives past a Mitty defender on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

In many ways, the Riordan boys basketball team came to fruition on Thursday night at Crusader Forum, but it still wasn’t enough to beat two-time defending state champion Mitty.

After Mitty scored on its first possession, the Crusaders led for most of the game, but succumbed to Aaron Gordon and the Monarchs in a 57-52 West Catholic Athletic League loss.

Gordon, the seventh-ranked recruit in the country according to ESPN.com, scored 10 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter to help erase a seven-point Riordan lead early in the frame and nearly outrebounded the Crusaders by himself (he had 23 boards, while Riordan collectively had 25).

Gordon gave the Monarchs (10-3, 4-0) their first lead of the second half at 47-46 with a leaning jump shot in the lane with 4:10 remaining to cap a 9-1 Mitty run, but the lead exchanged hands two more times before the final buzzer and the Crusaders (10-4, 1-3) had more than ample opportunities to win late.

On their final possession, trailing 55-52 with 19 seconds left, Riordan point guard Geru Mabrey drove to his left and got to the basket, but missed a layup. A scrum for the ball ensued, and a Mitty player eventually flipped the ball to Gordon all alone on the Riordan end of the floor. The 6-foot-8 senior took his time and unleashed a right-handed windmill dunk to punctuate the victory.

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon (right) is bodied by Riordan junior Chiefy Ugbaja on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon (right) is bodied by Riordan junior Chiefy Ugbaja on Thursday at Archbishop Riordan High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

“We definitely felt that was one we should have had there,” said Riordan head coach Rich Buckner. “A couple calls, a couple missed shots and one superstar can do that to you. They’re a great team and you have to be on your A game – 100 percent sharp in all aspects – to beat this team.”

Before the fourth quarter, it appeared the Crusaders had the formula to limit Gordon.

Riordan’s defensive rotation of forwards Graham Gilleran, Zach Masoli and Chiefy Ugbaja denied Gordon the ball inside for most of the game and held him to just one made field goal through three quarters, but each had foul trouble throughout.

“They battled to the end. Their jerseys are drenched in there,” Buckner said of the three forwards. “They battled their asses off and the coaching staff is proud of them.”

Even though the Crusaders led for most of the game, they never pulled away, despite Mitty’s relatively poor play in the first half. Riordan only led 25-23 after the first half almost entirely because of a transcendent performance from junior shooting guard Frankie Ferrari.

In a span of just under six minutes during the first and second quarters, Ferrari hit five straight shots (four from 3-point range, many while falling away) and finished with 16 points in the first half. Ferrari’s streak was so impactful that the Monarchs shifted Gordon to guard the 5-foot-11 junior on the perimeter.

“He was shooting that thing from deep,” Buckner said. “We’ve had a couple of shooters [at Riordan] – my man Dorian Manigo, when I played, and Ivan Dorsey a few years ago – but that’s why we’re so happy to have [Ferrari], because a three-pointer is such a game-changer.”

But even with the barrage from Ferrari, who finished with a team-high 19 points, the Monarchs felt fortunate to be only trailing by two points at the break.

“We definitely didn’t play to the best of our ability in the [first half], so to just be in striking distance — we got away with one in the first half,” said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy.

Riordan junior shooting guard Frankie Ferrari tries to penetrate against Mitty on Thursday at Archbishop Mitty High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Riordan junior shooting guard Frankie Ferrari tries to penetrate against Mitty on Thursday at Archbishop Mitty High School. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Ferrari went cold in the second half, but other Riordan shooters picked up the slack. Junior Bobby Arenas went on a shooting run of his own in the second half, hitting 4-of-7 field goal attempts after the halftime break (including 2-of-3 from three-point range). Mabrey also hit a pair of jumpers in the second half and the two guards finished with 12 points apiece.

Ugbaja was the only other Riordan player to score more than two points, however, and the 6-foot-3 junior had five points in the fourth quarter, including a two-handed dunk to tie the game at 52-52 with 1:52 remaining.

The Crusaders may have gone toe-to-toe with one of the best teams in the state, but Buckner, as well as the Riordan fans in attendance, took issue with the officiating throughout the game. The Crusaders were signaled for 22 fouls, while the Monarchs had 11 called against them, and the disparity was illustrated greatest at the free-throw line. Riordan made 5-of-7 attempts from the line, while the Monarchs knocked down 19-of-31. Gordon made 11-of-21 on his own, tripling the Crusaders’ collective attempts.

“It is what it is. You guys can write about what you saw,” Buckner said. “What we tried to tell those guys in the locker room was, don’t blame it on [the referees]. Look yourself in the mirror – that’s the sign of a man – and go home and judge yourself. Don’t put it on the referees. Don’t put it on anyone else.”

Scoring Leaders

Mitty
Aaron Gordon – 19
Connor Peterson – 14
Brandon Farrell – 10
Brandon Abajelo – 5
Two players tied with 2 points

Riordan
Frankie Ferrari – 19
Bobby Arenas – 12
Geru Mabrey – 12
Chiefy Ugbaja – 7
Zach Masoli – 2

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39 Comments

  1. Tom Jones says:

    Great game

  2. CrusaderNation says:

    What anexciting game! This is why people look at the WCAL as one of the best leagues in NorCal. The rusaders almost bagged a huge win. Mtty was thankful to leave with win and Buc did a great job. That was just a good battle where someone wins and someone loses.

    I love the WCAL!

  3. SF_Mikey says:

    Great write-up as always JB and excellent photos Eric!

  4. Just some facts says:

    Jeremy, you want to give an opinion on the officiating – after all you are a unbiased viewer.

    • jbalan says:

      I didn’t feel it was consistent. Many times, there appeared to be an egregious foul that was not called on one end of the floor, then a mysterious, off-the-ball foul on the other end. It’s really hard to say, though, without really looking out some sort of film, but there were a few times when Riordan and Mitty players were just hammered in the process of shooting. Contact while shooting, I feel, has to be called. I can live with some more physicality off the ball.

    • WCAL Fan says:

      I would like to hear about your thoughts on officating as well!!!! Other than that, the game was awesome and the Crusader Forum was rockin. The Crusaders almost pulled off an upset and Buc did a great job coaching! The fans were amazing as well as the band. Fun place to watch a good WCAL battle. Hold your heads up high Crusaders – you all did the best you could against Mighty Mitty and AG. JV’s won but not sure about the Freshmen A or B.

  5. M Air J says:

    Another great game at the Forum. the Riordan students were out in full force and having their band playing made it that much more enjoyable. Quite simply, Gordon is on another planet. He garnered so much attention that he opened up the floor for his teammates. Did he benefit from superstar calls, yes. The charge stands out as from my vantage point, that was clearly an offensive foul. He is a superstar in this league so he will benefit from those calls, but Riordan was playing him aggressive as well. If he has an achilles heel, it is definitley his FT shooting. Peterson played a solid game as well.

    On the bright side for Riordan, I believe Coach Buckner has found a lineup that plays well together. The starting 5 played with much better chemistry as they seemed to be in their natural positions. The 3 guard look just wasn’t working, and starting Chiefy really paid off. If they can get anything offensively from Gilleran, this team would be very hard to beat. It will be interesting to see how they finish out the first half of WCAL play. They may finsih 4-3 if they win their next 3 games, all winnable.

    • Just some facts says:

      M Air J
      There were three Riordan players who were told to guard AG and they were Gilleran, Masoli and Chiefy – and as you can see they did their job well and they had less points than the players who were told to shoot – Mabray, Ferrari, and Arenas. When you are tasked to control/guard AG BOTH offensively and defensively, that is your role and that is as important as the shooting. Keep in mind, it is not only that AG has to be guarded defensively – Offensive guarding of him and other players also has to occur. It is a fulltime job when you are working against the #5 or #7 player nationally. This is not football where there are offensive players and defensive players and they switch places on the field.. But even in offense in football, there are players who smooth the lanes for the QB and running backs etc. Sometimes the spectators just look for certain actions, plays, “wows” and points/dunks and lose track of the environment in which those things are able to occur due to teamwork. What Riordan has now in this starting team are players that each have their strengths and their roles. Now and for as long as they all take the roles and the coaching to heart and play as a team, they will see success.

      • Just some facts says:

        From the SF Chronicle article:
        “Gordon had just one bucket heading into the fourth quarter as Riordan’s trio of 6-7 Graham Gilleran, 6-3 Chiefy Ugbaja and 6-foot Zach Masoli did a superb job denying the nation’s No. 5 recruit the ball. But the trio also combined for 13 fouls, sending Gordon to the line 21 times. Gordon knocked down 11 free throws and also had seven blocks”.

        Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/preps/article/Gordon-powers-Mitty-past-Riordan-4185223.php#ixzz2Hhr72MZa

      • M Air J says:

        I hear what you are saying and I believe your point of contention is with my Gilleran comment. After the SI game you came to his defense saying he did his job in containing Marcu. Keep in mind Marcu is 6’1 and this is his first year playing varsity. Gilleran is 6’7 and is a 3 year varsity player/starter. Gilleran should have dominated that matchup but didn’t. You may be contect with him slowing down Marcu and helping out on AG, but I believe his team would expect more of him. My point is that I have seen Gilleran play very well but he hasn’t improved much, IMO. You may see things different but the “facts” are he has not scored much, if at all, in the games I’ve watched this year.

        • Just some facts says:

          M Air J
          Thanks, You make my point for me again. There are those spectators or bloggers that say that they understand…. but in the end go back to the points again. You did that and so you are one of those. You can’t see the importance of the other players. I spoke about the “Trio” that Mitch Stephens praised in his article in the Chronicle. You claim to know what that is about – but then you go back to the ‘wow’ factors again. You want to make this about something else but it is clear it is not in your mind anything than the ppg> There are those of us who understand the whole sport and understand that without all three of those players working very physically hard to control and contain AG the game would not have been close – but would have likely been like the SI – Mitty game – a blowout. In fact, I am beginning to think your sensitivity has more to do with Marcu and SI. I did remark that the containment of Marcu was why Marcu was having a “bad shooting period” according to his friends and fans because as you and many other posters who likely haven’t played “competitive” (emphasis on competitive like WCAL is now) basketball in high school or college or both – thought that it was something like not having fairy dust or having a bad hair day — why Marcu’s points were down – or that AG made only one basket in 3 quarters of play with Riordan. Well, let me try to make this clear: I am sure that none of those three Riordan players really care if they disappoint you with their play. You really don’t factor into their play out there. They could care less. They are pleasing their coaches and they are helping their team – and someone has to do it – not all the players out there can control the number 5 recruit in the US – apparently SI (including Marcu and others) were not able to do it as well as ARHS trio did. I am just trying to help the bloggers like you to see that there is so much more to playing basketball than points, dunks, doubles etc. There are many coaches who do get that – thank goodness — and persons like Jeremy and Mitch etc. – But unfortunately too few of those who know basketball well – like Hoosier and other coaches – blog on this website or quit doing so because of bloggers’ uneducated remarks. But there are coaches in the audience who do see better than you the value of the players like the trio for Riordan that held AG back to a close game – as well as all the other players that do their parts out there – all having a role. If all the players were out shooting every time they get the ball – who would be blocking or containing etc? How many turnovers would occur? You can’t expect GM or FF to guard AG – but they can handle the ball and shoot. I am surely not preaching to the choir when addressing you.
          PS BTW I was person who remarked that Marcu was a junior in his first year of Varsity. There are several thoughts rolled up into that statement. I don’t expect all of them to be transparent to some. He will have to be the one who needs to “improve” so that his coach and team can “expect more from him” and so and so – to quote a real basketball conoscente – that is, he is going to have to have a sharp learning curve to get there and some good coaching. Not sure how well that will work. But it is possible and I wish him well. Hope he pleases you by next year. You are a critical and verbal if not an important blogger/fan and lets hope he understands that. But truthfully, I hope he doesn’t read the posts (I know several coaches tell their players not to read the blogs – sorry to let you know) and truthfully I hope he doesn’t worry about pleasing you – not sure what role you play in his life. Amen. Lets let it go now, okay?

          • M Air J says:

            Wow, I obviously touched a nerve with you. Only a father, brother, aunt, uncle, neighbor etc. would get so worked up over, as you say, a blogger’s comments. You say I am critical but if you look back at the original post that set you off, you are the one that accused Marcu of “elbowing” when all I said was Gilleran plays a lot smaller than his 6’7 height. Most unbiased observers would say that you sir, are the critical one, which would make you a hypocrite. I am not saying you didn’t see what you thought you saw with the elbows, but apparently all 3 officials didn’t see it either. You are also the only “blogger” who brought that up. And also, just to clear things up, that was the first time I saw Marcu play. I, unlike you, have no dog in this fight. And let me also clear up some more non-facts in your post. I am not sensitive towards Marcu or SI, as I stated earlier, that was my first time seeing him play, ever. After the Mitty game, I then said this about Gilleran, “If they can get anything offensively from Gilleran, this team would be very hard to beat”. Again, I don’t perceive that as critical, but I respect your opinion if you do. Unlike you, I do not perceive people to not be knowledgeable about a subject if they do not share my point of view on said subject, as that would be ignorant on my part. I do not believe my comments were denigrating, and neither does Mr. Balan, or he would have blocked them. I was stating a personal opinion and an observation. My opinion is no more or less valid than yours.

            Another non-fact I would like to clarify: I played in the Los Angeles City League, and was a starter on the 1985 Crenshaw High School State Championship team. Back then, the best teams played in Division 1, unlike today where there are 5 divisions based on school size and other factors. I was a teammate with Stephen Thompson who played college ball at Syracuse. Again, most unbiased folks would say that might be the most competitive league in the state, especially during that time. I then played JC ball at Cerritos JC where I played with Tom Tolbert and played 2 years at LBSU. Upon completion of my studies at LBSU, I relocated to Northern California to attend grad school at Cal and have made my home here ever since. So to clear up some more of your non-facts, I played in very competitive leagues during my youth and have coached and taught the game as well.

            Again, I hear what you are saying and I agree that there are role players who are asked to do the under the radar type things that help teams win, I get that. The point I was trying to make are that a player of his size and skill set, should not be content only playing defense on 6’1 kids. Gilleran is a very good player, who for whatever reason, is in a funk offensively. Many balls go through his hands and he misses several rebounds that are in his reach. He does need to play up to his size and again, many unbiased observers I have spoken with, agree with me. Keep in mind his team is 1-4 in WCAL play and all 4 of their losses have been close. I did not see the game this weekend but they lost to the Bells by 1. If Gilleran would give them anything on O, they may be 5-0.

            You may want to consider changing your moniker from Just some facts as you have a tendency to make many statements not supported by facts. Just some opinions would be more accurate. This will be my last post in response to you. I will keep posting my opinions as everyone else on this board does. So I say to you, please let it go.

  6. Paul B. says:

    Nice cameo appearance by JB in the top photo.

  7. Marco G! says:

    The officiating was extremely disappointing and calls into question the integrity of the referee staffing in the WCAL. This is the 3rd big matchup this year that I have watched and the game calling by the officiating crews has been extremely poor. Even more concerning, is that fact (as I was informed after the game) that one of the officials from last nights game was the head of officiating committe for referees.

    At this level of play one would hope that the officials could raise the level of their calling to compliment the level of play these young men brought to the floor last evening.

    Kudos to both Riordan and Mitty for playing such an exciting and hard fought game. It’s nfortunate that the flow of the game was disrupted by such inconsistent officiating. I hope the officiating staff watch tape of the game and improve for the near future.

    Go Crusaders!

    • Ari Gold says:

      Ever wonder where those NFL replacement referees resurfaced after the real ones got their jobs back? Hmmmmmm?????

    • WCAL Alum says:

      Yes, the league coordinator (great ref); the other was argubly the best high school official in the Bay Area, and the third a bright new one. All with State championship game credentials. Imagine if this crew wasnt on the floor.

      Objectively speaking (without purple and gold/black and gold glasses), they balanced the game nicely. Mitty went to the line more (ie Gordan) because they had more drives to the basket. And for the reason I obseved before.

      Again, take from this a nice move forward for Riordan (big picture). If they play like this in Sectionals, I see them extremely hard to beat.

      • Don L. says:

        Funny how many people critique referees. Remember, you are watching from YOUR angle in the stands. The referees have the up close view. Sometimes the referees may miss a call. Something the close up lets you see something the fans or coaches don’t see.

        After seeing some of the comments earlier, I looked up the three officials who worked the game. The WCAL League Coordinator (as WCAL Alum noted). One of the (if NOT THE TOP) officials in our group. The “new guy” is hardly new. He looks young but has been around for a few years and and a great official. People tend to judge officials but the fouls / lack of fouls.

        There’s the overall control of the game / coaches. There’s talking players through certain plays. Being an official isn’t simply blowing the whistle.

  8. WCAL Alum says:

    As I indicated on the other post, Riordan suffocated Gordon all night long (ie, grab, pushed, pulled, some shoving). To his credit Gordon played through and kept his composure. Look at Ugbaja in the picture (and this was tempered). Riordan had an excellent game plan and if the other Mitty players did not come through they would have lost.

    Look, off ball a lot of stuff is not going to be called until the ball comes inside. If the off-ball stuff WAS called, Riordan’s (or any team’s) front court would have fouled out in first half. It’s when Gordan started going to the paint more and putting game on his back (in the fourth quarter) that the calls were made.

    A physical game indeed. Riordan was up to the task, just couldnt get over the top.

    The Gordan dunk at the end was magnificent. Not so much for its finality or degree of difficulty, but that it took 31:55 seconds for him to get some space and air out. His look after the dunk was less show-boat than relief from the Riordan outstanding defense all night.

  9. wcalsf says:

    What a great high school game last night at the Forum! Packed and rowdy house, Crusader Band on the floor during warmups and great hoops! This was a very physical game and it was quite apparent the calls were not going both ways by the disparity of the free throws of the teams. The Crusader starting five looks solid with Mabrey, Ferrari, Arenas, Chiefy and Gilleran with a sub rotation of Masoli, Hernandez, Jiday, Vrana and Shaq. Offense was more patient with better shot selection compared to the Serra game, but Arenas and Ferrari still need to improve. They did show signs of going to the hole rather than just shooting the three. They need to follow their 3 pt shots as there were some opportunities to regain possession. Jiday is struggling to find his offensive game, but should be fine once he figures out to have the game come to him rather than force everything. His defense remains very strong. Vrana and Shaq are still getting used to the speed, physicality and intensity of league play and this may take longer for them to settle in…Chiefy’s dunk in traffic and drive over Gordon was more impressive than Gordon’s dunk at the end of the game. Riordan looks to be improving and should be fine for the second half/fplayoff run…Looking forward to SHC next week.

  10. sf_alum says:

    Enjoyable game last night but I disagree that the reffing was egregiously bad. Gordon was defended physically all game and got fouled a lot. The refs just called what they saw.

    Riordan has a nice squad and forces a lot of turnovers on D but too many half court possessions ended in a long contested jumper. I think they’re missing an inside presence. I do think with the ability of their guards, they have the potential to make a deep run in the section and state playoffs.

    • WCAL Fan says:

      They will have an inside presence once Krim Ndiaye is healthy and able to play. It would have been nice to see him battle against AG though.

      • wcalsf says:

        Isn’t Karim out for the year?

        • WCAL Fan says:

          Yes, I should have said they will have that presence next year. My bad.

        • SF_Mikey says:

          Everything that I’ve heard from those in the know is that while Karim would like to try to play later this year – the coaching staff doesn’t want to jeopardize his future career by rushing him back too soon so they don’t plan on having him play at all this year. I’ve heard from reputable sources that he has Division 1 potential though and they expect him to provide that inside presence in years to come.

          • jbalan says:

            That is similar to what I have heard from Riordan. If he is going to play this season, it is going to be way down the line. They’re not going to take any chances with him reinjuring himself.

  11. Wcal insider says:

    Whatever happened to Padrones and Hameed for Riordan?

    • wcalsf says:

      They’ve been relegated to the bench. Both saw some playing time vs. Serra and should see some additional playing time this season, but they were never considered starters but productive bench/role players.

  12. Mike says:

    As a Mitty fan I will admit I have a bias towards the Monarchs. We all have bias towards our teams. I felt the officiating was decent. Sure they missed some calls but feel that for the most part got the calls right.

    One of the things that many people miss when it’s comes to Mitty is that every team comes ready to give their best. Every team knows it will take their best to knock off the champs. I watch every Mitty game and I am of the opinion the refs let defenses get away with a lot when it comes to Mitty.

    It seems like even the refs have it in the back of their minds that Mitty is dominant and make them prove themselves every match up. guys are slapping at AG every game and if other players were having that done to them every game they would be pretty upset. That photo on this article with Ugbaja defending is an obvious foul. Reaching in with his hand on Aaron’s arm but hey that’s Basketball.

    In addition many teams know they have to double and triple AG, they also know they can foul him because he averages around 50% from the line. That said the Crusaders came to play and have some serious TEAM skills and an uncanny ability(Mabrey) to steal the ball. Ferrari is lethal from the arch. Props to that band too.

    • Don L. says:

      Knowing the referees as I do, I know they do not think anything else but officiating the “best game they can”. They don’t think “oh Mitty’s good, we’re going to make them earn it”. This is the WCAL and look at the size of two of Mitty players in the pics (some big dudes). Being that the WCAL is a tough league, I would say that most officials would try to let the players play through things.

      • Mike says:

        Hi Don, I don’t believe that the officials say that to themselves. I believe they don’t know they do it. They have to know the match up. It has to be in their minds that every match up has a certain dynamic. If they didn’t I wouldn’t feel they are good refs. That is a major issue. If teams have history of dirty play. I’ve seen it plenty of times. Especially as we enter WCAl and CIF tournaments and teams see each other multiple times within the span of a few games, refs have to squash rivalrys before tip off. Warning players they are going to squash bad play. I watch a lot of WCAL games and the way AG gets handled is different than others games I watch. I don’t know why but I was merely speculating that subconsciously refs allow a lot… Or “let them play through it” a lot when it comes to AG. In your response you make my point. You said the refs “let players play through things” that suggests they come with a preconceived percpective. Maybe that’s my bias. That said WCAL refs are doing a great job. The calls don’t always go the way I would WANT but that’s all of us.

  13. Big guy 24 says:

    Very good high school game and atmosphere. The Ref’s did miss calls but both ways. The problem I see with Riordan is adjusting to the game of speedy running game then making sdjustments to the half court set. Riordan’s offense is horrible at this time, screens are non existent and they look like a aau team with one on one play and that won’t cut it in the WCAL. Ferrari takes too many bad shots and Mabry has to learn the point grd role of involving everyone. Arenas needs to be more aggresive at attacking the basket or posting up. The crusaders could be 1-4 after a loss to the Bells tonight. Too much talent to be 1-4 in league. Coaches and players have to fight harder and figure it out or it will be a long year again…Good luck kids.

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