Boys Basketball: Gordon and Mitty take down St. Ignatius in final trip to San Francisco

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon (right) looms over the shoulder of St. Ignatius junior point guard Trevor Dunbar, before blocking Dunbar's layup on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon (right) looms over the shoulder of St. Ignatius junior point guard Trevor Dunbar, before blocking Dunbar’s layup on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

By Jeremy Balan

Mitty phenom Aaron Gordon’s last trip to San Francisco in his high school career ended with him being mobbed by fans – and they were all wearing red and blue.

After Gordon scored 20 points, took in 10 rebounds and led the Monarchs to a 57-44 win at St. Ignatius on Saturday night, the same fans that gleefully cheered every time he missed a shot or free throw surrounded the state’s top recruit.

No gesture could better signal just how much the 6-foot-8 senior has meant to the West Catholic Athletic League in his four years and he remained on the court for 10 full minutes after the game to sign autographs and take pictures.

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon rears back before sending home a dunk against St. Ignatius on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

Mitty senior forward Aaron Gordon rears back before sending home a dunk against St. Ignatius on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

“He’s like The Beatles,” said Mitty head coach Tim Kennedy. “Wherever we go, he’s got a crew of people that want to take pictures and get autographs. That’s what happens when you’re on ESPN a few times. People want to hang out with you.”

Early on, however, Gordon’s San Francisco sendoff was less than ideal.

St. Ignatius (13-6, 4-5) made a point to hold on to the ball as long as possible on offensive possessions and essentially played keep way from the first-place Monarchs (15-4, 9-0) for three quarters.

The Wildcats held the ball until the final seconds of the shot clock on nearly every possession and in the first quarter, the strategy seemed to be working. St. Ignatius led 7-6 in the final minute of the opening quarter, but Gordon’s first of three dunks on the night gave the Monarchs back the lead and the Wildcats trailed the rest of the way.

“They were slowing us down, but they were also getting offensive rebounds,” Kennedy said. “I don’t know how many possessions were in the first quarter, but they were controlling tempo by getting those offensive rebounds and going 30 seconds deep in the shot clock. Each time that was a minute off the clock.”

Due to limited opportunities and the defense of forwards Andrew Vollert and Troy Rike, Gordon only had four points in the first half. With Gordon limited, guards Connor Peterson and Matt McAndrews spurred a 20-point Mitty second quarter with a combined 12 points and the Monarchs led 28-19 at the halftime break.

Even with the halftime deficit, the Wildcats stuck with their stalling offensive strategy and it largely kept them in the game.

Six third-quarter points from junior point guard Trevor Dunbar, who finished with a team-high nine, helped St. Ignatius inch a point closer after the third quarter and the Wildcats abandoned their stalling tactic in the fourth, but could only cut the lead to six points in the final eight minutes.

St. Ignatius forward Troy Rike tries to wrestle the ball away from a Mitty player on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

St. Ignatius forward Troy Rike tries to wrestle the ball away from a Mitty player on Saturday at St. Ignatius Prep. (Photo by Eric Sun)

“We had to try something, because we got demolished last time,” St. Ignatius head coach Tim Reardon said of the Wildcats’ 71-43 loss to Mitty in San Jose on Jan. 4. “It was just a couple of mental mistakes and a couple of defensive breakdowns, but that’s going to happen. [Gordon] is one of the premier athletes on the planet Earth, not just in this league.”

Gordon made three interior passes instead of looking to score on the first three Mitty possessions in the third quarter, but hit a three-pointer with 4:35 remaining in the frame and controlled the game the rest of the way. He scored 10 of the Monarchs’ 12 points in the third quarter and 16 in the second half.

“He’s a smart basketball player and he makes the right basketball reads,” Kennedy said. “If they’re sending three guys at him, he’s going to give it up, and when we need a basket, he’s going to make a play and get it.”

With the loss, the Wildcats have now lost back-to-back games for the first time this season, but after their disappointing offensive performance against Riordan on Wednesday and the first result against Mitty, Reardon was encouraged.

“It’s hard to say this after a loss, but this was a step in the right direction,” Reardon said. “They played hard and they played smart. It was an improvement.”

Scoring Leaders

Aaron Gordon – 20
Connor Peterson – 10
Matt McAndrews – 9
Brandon Farrell – 6
Two players tied with 4 points

St. Ignatius
Trevor Dunbar – 9
Julian Marcu – 8
Troy Rike – 7
Albert Waters – 6
Andrew Vollert – 5

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  1. Ari Gold says:

    I still can’t decide which was better because frankly both blocks, Chiefy on Yang or Gordon on Dunbar just makes you go nuts. Chiefy’s was a volleyball spike for a kill, and Gordon’s was like he jumped so high the block went straight down like he was taking a hard dribble himself. In any case, fantastic defensive plays.

    • WCAL Alum says:

      I would say Gordon on Dumbar. In the Riordan SI game, yang was so off balanced and extended the ball never got higher than the net. It was a easy swat by a strong kid. I was more impressed with his overall play than the swap.

    • Josh Weinstein says:

      @Ari Gold, And I can’t decide which was better either when it comes to SI winning by two touchdowns in the Bruce Mahoney football game or SI beating SH for the trophy in the basketball game at USF a few weeks ago. You can have your two “blocks” and get all excited. I’ll take the two wins over the Irish and the trophy.

      • Ari Gold says:

        Josh I cant decide whats more pathetic: SI losing to a handful of PAL teams over the last 3 years or your obnoxious student body that was hootin’ & hollerin’ anything they can to Gordon and then at the end of the game pretending to be his best friend and asking him to be in a group picture.

  2. Hoosier says:

    Even though SI lost last night, a few props to deserving individuals and also some stats in contrast to the first Mitty game.

    First, AG32 is deserving of the press he receives. He understands that his talent is superior to most high school players, yet usually plays in control and involves his team mates. Also appears to be a humble, and modest person, good luck to you. Yes his highlight dunks, blocks and amazing athleticism create “wow” moments, but it is his approach, fundamentals and attitude that will serve him well at the next level(s).

    Second, SI coach is to be recognized for the change to his overall game strategy (slowed it down) and he also changed how he used his rotation last night by playing two big’s most of the game with a rotation of #33,#21 and #52, , and the result was a significant improvement in results versus the first Mitty game. Using two big’s at the 4&5 for the majority of the game was the primary factor in the improvement in stats below:

    Game 1: Final Score (71-43)

    7 Points and 11 Rebounds by combination of the three big’s (#21/#33/#52)

    Game 2: (57-44)

    20 Points and 17 Rebounds by combination of #21/#33/52

    Also, # 25 from Mitty was held to 6 points which was down significantly from the double/double he had in the first game.

    Lastly, the insertion of #32 was a very good move, as he hit a three right away, and had another one a minute later that was oh so close. Having a couple of set plays for #32 that could be called upon to open up defenses would be interesting, as anyone who watches the kid in pre-game can see he is a drop dead, spot up three point shooter.

    Overall, it was a great game for basketball fans, and for SI it was a nice step forward against teams with length, IMHO.

    • Lance says:

      I have to admit that I have not followed AG career very closely, but I have been watching a lot on Youtube lately. I have to ask, at the same time in their carerrs, ie, senior years at AMHS, which one of the Gordon brothers is more of a NBA prospect. I know that DG started at UCLA and ended up New Mexico and is now playing pro ball in Serbia. Both brothers are fun to watch on Youtube.

      • Ari Gold says:

        I believe Drew is playing in Germany, not Serbia. I could be wrong. Drew was invited to Dallas Mavericks camp in the preseason. Overall, Aaron has the edge on athleticism. He takes a ton of punishment from all the hacking he gets from smaller guys. He’s as physical as Drew , but Drew was built a little more. Aaron will be a high flyer. Drew is more like Drew Gooden type/game.

        The knock of reported articles was Drew had issues with Ucla’s Howland which led to him transferring out. Led me to believe he wasnt much of a team guy and had a bad attitude. Aaron I thought was like that but until I talked to him after a game, totally the opposite of his brother. The kid has a bright future with that attitude.

      • IC Stars says:

        I think Aaron is better. Better outside game.

        • wcalsf says:

          Biggest difference btwn DG and AG is “between the ears”. AG has the bittersweet benefit of seeing DG’s transgressions in HS and College. DG often times lost his composure when other team’s got in his head or played the hack a shaq game . Both are so physically gifted with high motors!

      • WCAL Alum says:

        Drew was a lot more confrontational. He was hounded constantly never handled it well. He was quite a talent but his demons caught up with him at school and otherwise. His younger brother surely learned a think or two about handling all the pressure.

    • wcalsf says:

      Coach Reardon took Riordan coach Buckner’s approach to the game in slowing it down and working the offense and look for uptempo when it presented itself. Unfortunately, SI lacks an abundance of low post physical players and overall depth compared to the Monarchs. Appears teams have scouted Dunbar’s tendencies and have limited his effectiveness in the latter part of WCAL play…

  3. pf says:

    52 from s.i wasn’t trying to block ag dunks, amusing

  4. Dukes says:

    ARI GOLD…..What happened to your Irish against the Bells? Down 32-3 after the 1q? Whats going on over there?

    • Ari Gold says:

      You didnt know? SI paid us to throw this game so Bellarmine would be the 4th team in Open Division. Then SI can have a cakewalk in CCS Div 3 towards a cheap championship.

      • JJ says:

        Good luck to the Irish as they will play Salesian in the 1st round of NorCals

        • Ari Gold says:

          Not likely. After CCS, they will likely be placed in D3 NorCals. SI too will likely be in D3 NorCals in the opposite bracket.

          • JJ says:

            I guess it all depends on how they do for the rest of the season, because they qualify as a candidate for the Open Division, because they won 2 sectional titles the past 2 years. It really depends how many teams are selected for the Open. If there are only 8 teams selected, they won’t make it, but if 12 teams are selected, they could be the 12 seed and play Salesian at some point, lol.

  5. Just some facts says:

    Doesn’t it look in the top photo like Dunbar is offering up the ball to AG who is about to grab it emphatically?

    • JJ says:

      Dunbar looks like he put the ball on a silver platter and AG just measured it and spiked it like it was a beach ball. It was actually a bad play by AG because he should’ve blocked it lightly and kept the ball inbounds, but he wanted to please the crowd by spiking it. The one thing I like about him is that he doesn’t show up his opponents by staring them down, thump his chest, or yells when he makes a good play, he just runs back on defense or looks away.

      • Just some facts says:

        He is classy. Agreed, but that is something he grew into the last 4 years. Earlier on he got sorta mildly mad at all the people batting at his ball and then he was more emphatic in his dunks and blocks and and if he wanted to give a message he did more dunks too.

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