Berkeley now 7-0 in ACCAL
Following a pattern that has held all season long, the Berkeley boys’ basketball team wore down its opponent and dominated the fourth quarter, beating De Anza 64-49 on Friday night. The Yellowjackets are now 7-0 in ACCAL play, firmly entrenched in the top spot in the league.
Forward Louis Riordan led Berkeley with a game-high 22 points, outscoring De Anza star Michael McFadden, the league’s top scorer. McFadden scored 19 points in the game, shooting just 8-of-18 from the floor. The senior guard was shadowed by Berkeley defenders all night, and guard Muhammed Nitoto played him especially well, forcing McFadden to throw up three airballs.
“Muhammed did a great job on him one-on-one, and we also did a good job helping on McFadden to stop his penetration,” Berkeley head coach Mike Gragnani said. “The only time he got penetration was in transition.”
McFadden got very little help on offense, as guard Angelo Hughes was the only other real threat. Hughes scored 16 points in the game, and was the only other De Anza player to score more than four points.
Berkeley got dominating inside play from centers Ramone Reed and Jahi Milton. Reed scored 16 points and pulled down nine rebounds, missing just one shot from the floor and getting to the free throw line eight times. Milton dominated the glass in limited action, pulling down five rebounds in the second quarter.
“It wasn’t as easy as it probably looked,” Reed said. “They made me work for everything I got down there.”
The two teams traded baskets for the first four minutes, and the score was tied 8-8 when Berkeley point guard Ryan Davis entered the game. He immediately hit a three-pointer, then hit a runner to put his team up 15-8. McFadden struggled early, airballing a three attempt and hitting just 1-of-5 in the first quarter as Berkeley pulled out to a 21-12 lead.
The Dons got closer as McFadden heated up in the second period, draining a three to bring his team with two points at 23-21 as Berkeley struggled with their shooting. But McFadden was getting increasingly frustrated with his team’s turnovers, and his coaches pulled him with three minutes left in the half. Regardless, De Anza guard Angelo Hughes tied the game with a putback, and De Anza was right back in the game.
But Davis once again came to his team’s rescue, hitting a short jumper to put them ahead. Defensive whirlwind Byron St. Jules followed with a steal and easy layup, and the ’Jackets had a 27-23 halftime lead.
McFadden was back on the floor to start the third quarter. After Riordan hit a three-pointer, the De Anza star stripped Davis and broke away for a dunk, pulling his team within one with 4:17 left in the period. But Nitoto answered back by stripping McFadden for his own easy layup, giving Berkeley a five-point lead they would hold for the rest of the quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Yellowjackets, starting with an Allyn Washington steal that turned into a Riordan three. Reed drew a foul inside and hit both free throws, and Davis drove the lane for a layup that put Berkeley up 53-43 with less than four minutes left in the game. As the Dons grew more desperate, they took risks on defense. Davis took advantage by spreading the floor and penetrating, kicking the ball to a wide-open Riordan for two consecutive three-pointers.
“Me and Lou have a deal for the end of the game that we call ‘cashing out,’” Davis said. “It was his turn to cash out tonight.”
Riordan, who hit five three-pointers against El Cerrito on Tuesday, said he felt confident in his shot.
“My shot was feeling good again, and Ryan set me up real nice,” he said. “We set that up by spreading the floor, and I just knocked down the open shots.”
McFadden started throwing up desperation shots, few of which fell.
“They did a real good job of sagging on me and knowing where I was all the time,” McFadden said. “They’re the toughest team in the league on defense.”
After the game, Gragnani refused to discuss the possibility of running the ACCAL table.
“It’s way too early to start talking about going undefeated,” he said.